Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Co-production Strategy

Norfolk & Waveney Mental Health Co-production Strategy & Toolkit

Co-production isn’t a new concept, but it is an important part of the development of mental health services. It refers to partnership working with people with lived experience of mental illness (as well as carers and family members) in the planning, commissioning, design and delivery of services. It includes people’s lived experience, views and ideas in the drive to improve services. It’s particularly valuable in mental health services, where so often people feel their voice isn’t heard.

Co-production is a key part of the national guidance for the NHS around working with people and communities, for which Norfolk and Waveney have developed their own approach.

Better mental health outcomes for the people of Norfolk and Waveney will happen when services meet needs in the most effective ways possible. To do this lived experience of care and support needs to be valued equally to other expertise in the Integrated Care System.

Coproducing mental health care and support in Norfolk and Waveney will help us reach our goals as an Integrated Care System. These goals are:

  • To ensure people can live as healthy a life as possible
  • To ensure people only have to tell their story once
  • To make Norfolk and Waveney the best place to work in health and care

Rethink Mental Illness’ coproduction team have been supporting the Adult Mental Health Transformation. Rethink are a national charity facilitating coproduction in a number of Integrated Care Systems across England. They are facilitating the coproduction of a draft strategy on behalf of NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB. The draft strategy has now been agreed by the Mental Health Oversight Board.

Between November 2023 and March 2024 the draft strategy is being shared with system partners and locality teams who support wellbeing for our people and communities to raise awareness and gather further comments.  

Feedback on the draft strategy can be shared with Rethink: and the NHS Norfolk and Waveney ICB Mental Health Team:

Our vision for coproduction in five years time is that the voices of people and communities are at the centre of decision-making and governance about mental health services, at every level of the Integrated Care System.

We believe co-production will lead to a culture shift towards seeing mental illness as a long term condition. From ‘fixing’ people to focusing on their recovery, supporting them on an ongoing basis, towards a better life. People who have used commissioned mental health services often need time to process their experience, so we need to go beyond current feedback mechanisms which often demand immediate feedback. It is also important to tell the story of change – to go back to people and demonstrate where lived experience has had a positive influence, so they see the point of being involved and feel valued and listened to.

Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Co-production Toolkit

As well as developing a strategy the co-production group has started work on a toolkit to help people use co-production in mental health. The final strategy and the toolkit will be published here soon.

Co-production is an innovative space that involves constant learning and exploring about working together to address the complicated issues we need lived experience to solve, while striving to include people experiencing the highest levels of inequality. The Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Co-production Toolkit will change and grow over time. It will also build on existing good practice across a wide range of services and organisations – both local and national.

There are also many co-production resources that focus on Mental Health:

NSFT Recovery College

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) Recovery College provides free educational workshops and courses for anyone over the age of 16 in Norfolk and Suffolk. Courses are designed to support people to invest in their own wellbeing, find empowerment on their mental health journey and become experts in their own recovery. Co-production is at the heart of how the Recovery College works. This guidance is written to support understanding of what coproduction is and how it is used in creating and reviewing courses, as well as any projects that the college is working on. It includes useful general information around co-producing in a mental health sphere.

All the courses are centred on the principles of CHIME – Connection, Hope, Identity, Meaning and Empowerment, and cover a variety of topics. They follow a personal recovery approach with the aim of empowering people to take control of their own lives and become experts in their own recovery – people choose their own courses to attend. Recovery College is a safe space to learn among other people who have experienced mental health challenges, supporters and members of staff. The Recovery College is not a replacement for clinical support, it works alongside it, as people choose their own courses and work at a pace that suits them.

The next steps

Work will continue on the Mental Health Co-production Toolkit. The aim is to have an interactive and flexible resource that will draw on general and specialist examples of good practice in co-production, alongside locally specific examples.