HSE launches ‘Partnership for Change’ the report of the Mental Health Reference Group

- Views of service users, family members and carers will influence design of mental health services

- New Head of Service User, Family Members and Carer Engagement appointed


The HSE has today (Wednesday, 22nd June 2016) launched ‘Partnership for Change’, the report of the Mental Health Reference Group.  The report details the way in which mental health services will ensure the views of service users, family members and carers are taken on board to influence the design and development of those services. 


Launching the report Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee said, “For me, the involvement of people who use the service, and their family members or carers, must be a cornerstone of a recovery-orientated mental health service.  As important as it is that we provide service users with a voice, it is equally important that we listen to and act on what is being said.  If the act of speaking up is empowering, then the act of being listened to is doubly so.” 


“The report represents something of a landmark.  The Office of Service User, Family Member and Carer Engagement has been established and is at the heart of the Mental Health Division, with equal representation at the highest level of decision making within the National Mental Health Management Team.” Minister McEntee also congratulated Liam Hennessy on his appointment as Head of Service User, Family Member and Carer Engagement.

Anne O’Connor, National Director, HSE Mental Health Services said, “This is an exciting new chapter in collaborative partnership for the mental health services. Engaging service users, their families and carers is a key strategic priority for the Mental Health Division. The implementation of these recommendations marks another significant step forward in working with those who use our services.”


The HSE Mental Health Division established a mental Health Reference Group in August 2014, consisting of 13 service users, family members and carers.  The group submitted recommendations to the HSE national mental health management team that were accepted in full.  The recommendations outline the key structures that will be used to engage service users, their families and carers and service providers at local and national level. 


In line with the recommendations, Liam Hennessy was appointed as the new Head of Service User Engagement in February and will be leading on the development of the engagement structures. A user of the mental health services himself, Liam has a background in teaching and has worked as a senior civil servant, a management consultant and, most recently, as the Service User, Assistant Inspector of Mental Health Services at the Mental Health Commission. Liam was Chair of St Patrick’s University Hospital Consumer and Carers’ Council and joint Chair of REFOCUS (Recovery Experience Forum of Carers and Users of Services), a committee of the College of Psychiatrists of Ireland. 


Commenting on his appointment and the recommendations set out in today’s report, Liam Hennessy said, “My appointment is a great privilege and responsibility and I look forward to addressing the challenges of the job together with my team, colleagues in the Mental Health Division and in the wider HSE and, most importantly, service users, their supporters and service providers throughout the country.  I am conscious too that this is a pioneering development as, insofar as we are aware, there are no such comparable structures at a national level elsewhere.”


The next stages in the development of the service will include the recruitment of nine Area Leads for Engagement who will work in their designated areas, with service users and their supporters, to establish local and area forums. These forums will work in partnership with the local services to ensure that service user, family members and carer experiences and views will be taken into account in the planning and delivery of services. 


The launch of today’s report is a key strategic development for the Irish mental health services  and, in particular, for those who use the services and their supporters, whose views and experiences will be considered in shaping and influencing the design and delivery of future services.  Management within the HSE Mental Health Division will take the lead in building these structures nationally and locally to shape our mental health services and work in a collaborative partnership. 


A copy of the report is available here.


Last updated on: 22 / 06 / 2016