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The role of the voluntary sector 

The role of the voluntary sector
The role of the voluntary sector

Vanessa Pinfold

and Mary Teasdale

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date: 27 January 2022

The voluntary sector is a dynamic and vital part of any mental health system. Rooted in the experiences of mental health service users and carers, voluntary sector organizations across the world ensure that the voices of ‘experts by experience’ directly influence campaigns, policy debates, service redesign, and project planning and treatment guidelines. The sector is, however, fragile and in some countries organizations are increasingly dependent on state funding which could undermine their autonomy and independence. Psychiatrists can support their local voluntary organizations by joining them—as members, as campaigners, and as educators. The sector can also support psychiatrists, helping to transform the public image of psychiatry and encouraging young people to take an interest in mental health as a career option. The alliances forged with psychiatrists and their representative bodies are crucial for improving the quality of mental health services and to effectively tackle stigma and discrimination. We do need each other in order to deliver better outcomes for mental health service users and their families.

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