Co-production in mental health is about progression towards ‘the transformation of power and control’. There is no single, universal model of co-production and the way in which it is done is specific to the task, context and the people involved. It requires thinking about people (service users, carers, groups and staff), power, partnerships, resources and risk in ways that are very different to what has gone before in mental health services.

To ensure full collaboration, the co-production process should seek to achieve equality and parity by bringing together professionals and people with lived experiences who can work as equals, to develop a shared understanding of what needs to change and a commitment to bringing that about. Change will happen during the process of co-production as well as being a consequence of it.

The purpose of co-production is to support strategic leads, commissioners and managers responsible for mental health, to consider and bring about the cultural and behavioural changes that are required, for co-production to become the ‘norm’, in the design, commissioning and delivery of mental health services and supports within the community.

There are six principles which are the foundation stones of co-production. Co-production in practice will involve alignment with all these principles, and they are all underpinned by similar values.

  1. Taking an assets-based approach: transforming the perception of people, so that they are seen not as passive recipients of services and burdens on the system, but as equal partners in designing and delivering services.
  2. Building on people’s existing capabilities: altering the delivery model of public services from a deficit approach to one that provides opportunities to recognise and grow people’s capabilities and actively support them to put these to use at an individual and community level.
  3. Reciprocity and mutuality: offering people a range of incentives to work in reciprocal relationships with professionals and with each other, where there are mutual responsibilities and expectations.
  4. Peer support networks: engaging peer and personal networks alongside professionals as the best way of transferring knowledge.
  5. Blurring distinctions: removing the distinction between professionals and recipients, and between producers and consumers of services, by reconfiguring the way services are developed and delivered.
  6. Facilitating rather than delivering: enabling public service agencies to become catalysts and facilitators rather than being the main providers themselves.

Most of the strongest examples of co-production have all these principles embedded in their day-to-day activities, but some principles may feature more strongly than others.

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