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World Mental Health Day 2016: Celebrating Recovery – Transforming Lived Experience


Developing and sustaining a recovery culture lies at the heart of reforming mental health services in Northern Ireland.  This was the key message from the ‘Celebrating Recovery – Transforming Lived Experience’ conference held to mark World Mental Health Day today, 10 October 2016, at the Dunsilly Hotel in Antrim.

People with lived experience of recovery in mental health developed and led on the event, sharing their own personal and powerful stories of how working with others has enabled them to change their lives.  Through co-production, people who provide services collaborate with those who have experience of mental ill health. Together they develop services and agree a more personalised and person focused approach.

Opening the celebration, Eileen Shevlin, Chair of the HSC World Mental Health Day event, said: “Within mental health, co-production is recovery for people with lived experience. Co-production in its true sense recognises people as assets. It embeds partnership working by combining lived experience with learned experience so that everyone’s contribution is seen as equal.

Conference Organisers

Health and social care professionals and people with lived experience of mental health services from across NI pictured at ‘Celebrating Recovery – Transforming Lived Experience’ Conference held to mark World Mental Health Day. People with lived experience led the development and organisation of the event supported by CAUSE and Health and Social Care Trust staff and hosted by the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency

“Co-production has the ability to transform lives by allowing people with lived experience to contribute in a way that matters to them. As it is a strengths-based approach it encourages us to focus on what we can offer rather than on what’s wrong with us. Ultimately, it transforms service delivery as citizens are at the heart of the commissioning, design and delivery of services that matter to them.”


Conference speakers pictured at World Mental Health Day event ‘Celebrating Recovery: Transforming Lived Experience’, (from L-R) are Audrey Montgomery, Northern Recovery College, Anthony Geraghty, Western Recovery College Limavady, Briege McClean, Western Recovery College Omagh, Eileen Shevlin, Event Chair, John McCormick, Scottish Recovery Network and Arlene Riley, Carer with Lived Experience

Co-hosted by the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency, the event was attended by people with lived experience and health and social care professionals from the statutory, community and voluntary sectors, including Health and Social Care Trusts and CAUSE.

Welcoming the collaborative ethos central to recovery, Kevin Keenan, Asst Director of Social Care & Children’s Services, HSCB, said: “Mental health services are leading the way in Northern Ireland in terms of co-production. With this in mind, I wish to acknowledge the value we in health and social care place on working alongside people with lived experience of mental health treatment and care and with our partners in the community and voluntary sectors.

“We are now learning together through the establishment of the Recovery Colleges in each Health and Social Care Trust. Recovery Colleges facilitate ways of working that draw on the experiences and skills of people who have used mental health services and the staff who work in them. They have enabled the development of the You in Mind Mental Health Care Pathway which redefines how services are shaped to create an environment which builds hope, supports recovery and restores a person’s sense of control.”

Delegates heard stories of mental health recovery from people with lived experience and their carers, participated in Recovery Activity Taster sessions and learned from the experience of the Scottish Recovery Network.


World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year.  The day provides an opportunity for everyone working or interested in mental health issues to focus on improving the experience and lives of people with mental health needs.

The focus of the You in Mind mental health initiative is to commit health and social care services to delivering care which is more personalised and improves the experience of people with mental health problems by adopting a more evidence based and recovery oriented approach to care across the system.

The Regional Mental Health Care Pathway – You in Mind can be accessed .