How to engage with a range of stakeholders?

Building a relationship takes time and trust but, as a first step, it’s important to engage the various parties in a conversation about what services are needed; which are currently available, and how they can be integrated to improve mental health and wellbeing in the local population. This will help to take commissioning beyond mere procurement. It will help to build understanding, and build capacity and capability for action to improve mental health as well as treat mental ill health.

Localities vary, but as a minimum, commissioners will ideally engage local authorities (and their Social Services Departments); local providers of care (Mental Health Foundation trusts and independent and/or charitable providers of primary and secondary services); and service users and carers. A list of local service user groups and `third sector’ organisations can be found on the web or by getting in touch with the National Association of Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA).

The Joint Commissioning Panel for Mental Health has published guidance for commissioners (Volume One: ‘Practical mental health commissioning’). This describes the main groups involved in commissioning, the structures, their functions and the values that underpin effective commissioning.

It may also be helpful to know that the NHS Commissioning Board, together with NAVCA and Social Enterprise UK (SEUK) will be working with 12 CCGs committed to delivering improved health outcomes for their communities by building effective community involvement. The twelve learning sites will form a network across England to develop, highlight and support best practice; enable local partners to innovate local solutions and to spread best practice amongst other CCGs. Find out more at