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Lived Experience

Lived experience should be at the heart of campaigning and influencing work


ACUMEN (Advancing Community Understanding of Mental & Emotional Needs) is the arm of RAMH that promotes using lived experience to better both mental health services and individuals' wellbeing.

At ACUMEN we believe that to bring about positive and long-lasting social change, people with lived experience should be at the heart of campaigning and influencing work. People with a lived experience of Mental Health / Social Isolation and Loneliness bring insight, wisdom and perspective that is critical to informing the best approaches to the Mental Health Sector in Scotland.

They are experts by experience. Increasingly, meaningful involvement of people who use—or have used—services is being recognised as an indispensable part of mental health service delivery.

It is important that people of lived experience in mental health remain at the forefront in planning and delivery services, and this can only be done by ensuring that people are engaged. Having people with lived experience involvement, is about making sure that mental health services, organisations and policies are led and shaped by the people best placed to know what works and what does not. Involving them brings unique insight and taps into a valuable resource that can help improve the quality of services – something that is increasingly being recognised through growing evidence.

“Lived experience placed a strong emphasis on the need for people to be treated with respect and dignity at all times and the need for recovery support and services”.

There are many areas in which we can and must do better. Our growing and changing population, increased awareness of mental health issues and changing pressures in society are increasing demand for services and raising challenges for communities.

People who use, or have used services, and their families know better than anyone what works. Increasingly, meaningful involvement of people who use—or have used—services is being recognised as an indispensable part of mental health service delivery. When people are equipped and supported to help commission, deliver, and check the services they and their peers use, those services improve, and the people involved gain in confidence and skills

Recognising people as assets - transforming perceptions of people as passive recipients of care and ‘burdens’ on the system to equal partners in designing and delivering services.

  • Building on people’s existing capabilities - actively supporting people to recognise and use their strengths.
  • Offering people who use services opportunities to develop reciprocal relationships with professionals (and with each other) and enter into mutual responsibilities and expectations.
  • Breaking down barriers - blurring the distinctions between professionals and services users engaging in services, and reconfiguring power relations and the way services are developed and provided

People who have been through Mental Health / Social Isolation and Loneliness, are best placed to inform how we can best support others in crisis. People who have went through


People of lived experience in mental health, local authority Statutory Services, HSCP, Employability, Housing and the Scottish Government working in partnerships to improve the mental health and wellbeing of people through responsive and inclusive mental health services.


People of lived experience in mental health to participate meaningfully, the values of lived experience engagement need to be upheld by all those involved.

Lived experience in Mental Health

ACUMEN is committed to putting people with lived experience at the centre of designing and delivering mental health services in Scotland to ensure that they meet the needs of the people who use them. People with a lived experience of mental health issues, and their families and carers, hold unique insights into how services can best respond to Scotland’s mental health needs. This is true not just of health care but in many other domains including education, employment, housing, and family services.

People’s experience in mental health in Scotland have been witness to decisions made on their behalf, often without consultation. This has meant that a system of inequity is embossed on service delivery and representation throughout Scotland.

ACUMEN will ensure people are placed at the centre of mental health policy and practice change by engaging them as partners in co-design and co-production. Genuine engagement: enables people to be able to take an active role in shaping the way in which services are planned, delivered, and evaluated.

For more information email enquiries@acumennetwork.org