Carers have also led training sessions for professionals. The growth of local carers? groups, as well as Relate and Rethink, facilitated recognition of the importance of the carers? voices. These developments led to shared meetings of service users and carers with statutory mental health professionals. Here in our community, we need to recognise the painstaking, invaluable, loving care offered by family carers and friends as well as by the fellowship of people with direct experience of mental health issues. In 2002, I was enabled to launch the Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Group, then attached to the Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility. Alison Webster, our Oxford Diocesan Social Responsibility Officer, ensures that the group, which is still active, is well-resourced with relevant information about help and services for people across the diocese. Mental Health has always been a priority. In our own church some years ago we held discussions on mental health, led by people with direct experience. We resolved that our parish should be especially welcoming to people in mental distress and to develop our understanding. During the past few years, a study (2017-18) by the newly formed Oxfordshire Suicide Prevention Multi Agency Group (2014) found that two-thirds of people who die by their own hands had not been in contact with mental health services.

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