Invisible to who? Insights on user-led mental health groups

Invisible to who? Insights on user-led mental health groups

Mx Ruairi WhiteZoom

In late 2020, National Survivor User Network (NSUN) embarked on new stream of capacity building work focused on user-led groups delivering grassroots mental health work.

User-led mental health work is often described as ‘invisible’ without asking, ‘Invisible to whom?’ or, ‘Invisible why?’ Organisations carrying out or supporting this work may use the language of invisibility to win funding or communicate need and urgency. This paper presents insights from my capacity building work at NSUN which complicate and investigate this concept of invisibility as it relates to user-led groups.

I’ll begin by identifying the assumptions that underpin the term ‘user-led groups’ and offering insight into the characteristics and needs of those groups. Then I will look at how narratives of invisibility operate in capacity building models and the ecosystem of the mental health sector. My sense, informed by work with and within user-led and survivor-led groups, is that attempts by more ‘visible’ (established, above-board, clinical, professionalised) organisations to recognise and amplify the voices of lived experience often discipline in the name of development. Because of this, the paradigm of visibility versus invisibility can oversimplify user-led groups’ complex claims to authority and authenticity, and their relationships to power.

(Working title!)

National Survivor User Network (NSUN), UK
Thu 09:30 - 11:00
Education, Mental Health
Standard paper