New online peer support and other service user engagement developments progressed

Our Service User Engagement Coordinator, Siobhan Fitzharris, shares an update with GPs as a unique insight into our continuous work to engage with service users, whose input helps to inform all aspects of our services.

Robust partnership with service users

Robust partnership with service users

We recognise that service user insight, expertise and opinions are critical to shaping the development of our services into the future. Past and present service users' perspectives are integrated in a meaningful way as we grow and expand.

In 2020, we have continued to enhance service user participation and involvement within our organisation through the establishment of a robust partnership ethos and structure.

The following is intended to provide some information about the opportunities we have in place to facilitate service user engagement and the role it plays in ensuring that the voices of our service users and their unique perceptive is represented in all aspects of our service.

Service User and Supporters Council updates

Service User and Supporters Council updates

The Service User and Supporters Council (SUAS) is a forum we originally established in 2005 to facilitate extensive service user participation. SUAS members provide input and feedback on our key initiatives.

Peer support

In May of this year, SUAS members proposed developing a new online peer support service for former SPMHS service users. This new service will be launched in January 2020 and, while we are fully supportive of this new initiative, it will be run by former service users for former service users.

Trained peer facilitators, working in pairs, will host online support sessions. These are non-clinical, informal meetings where people with a shared experience of mental health difficulties can come together and support each other. The service will be launched initially on a pilot basis for former SPMHS service users and, if there is sufficient demand, then it could be available for anyone who feels they could benefit from accessing this peer support service.

Ministerial engagement

The Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD, recently attended the monthly SUAS meeting in November. Minister Butler was very interested to hear about the members' plans for the new online peer support service and to learn more about the role SUAS plays in SPMHS.

Lectures and interviews

Some other areas SUAS were involved in during 2020 included being part of staff interview panels. They also delivered lectures every six weeks in St Patrick’s University Hospital as part of the service user morning lecture series. These lectures provide current service users with information about SUAS, the role and function they fulfil and opportunities to join our service user groups.

Service User Advisory Network updates

Service User Advisory Network updates

Another opportunity we have for service users to get involved is through our Service User Advisory Network (SUAN). This network was established in 2018 and builds on the work being done by SUAS. SUAN members are consulted with and their views and opinions are regularly sought on a range of aspects that impacts on people who use our services.

Members of SUAN actively fed into a number of projects during 2020, including:

If you would like to find out more information about SUAS or SUAN, please contact Siobhan Fitzharris, Service User Engagement Coordinator, by calling 01 249 3390 or emailing

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