Participation Leadership in Psychological Therapies Training at GMMH Psychological Therapies Training Centre

One thing that we know is that we cannot innovate or improve services without working with patients, clients, users and communities. The role of the Participation Leads is to support development and transformation of mental health services by ensuring that voice can become influence and impact. It is well documented that co-produced projects deliver better outcomes because engagement between user and provider leads to meaningful, mutual and sustainable service improvements.

As Participation Leads at the Psychological therapies Training Centre, we are trying to support the team to embed co-production principles into every aspect of training programme delivery, from student recruitment to programme design, and across all teaching and assessment processes.

Man with blue suit looking into camera with the sea in the background

Anthony O’Connor ( Participation Lead Adult Programmes)

Anthony says: "I’m the new Participation Lead for Adult Programmes at the Psychological Therapies Training Centre. This week is Co-Production Week and I’m taking this opportunity to tell everyone what my own experience with co-production is, and how we intend to embed co-production principles at the Training Centre in the coming months.

"I’ve been involved with co-production for a while and currently work on several projects for the Co-Production Collective based at UCL; this includes teaching co-production to the UCL Mental Health Sciences Doctoral students. I’m also delivering a lecture on co-production and research as part of the curriculum for next year’s University of Manchester Counselling Psychology Doctoral Course.

"I’ve taken part in co-productions with the Independent Mental Health Network, Gaddum, Manchester City Council, Aqua and People’s Voice Media. I would like to take this opportunity to plug our own Recovery Academy’s “What is Co-Production” which will be running again in September; I’m hoping to co-deliver this and would love to see some of you there!

"As we write this, a group of experts by experience I have recruited are taking part on the interview panels for the autumn intake of our Postgraduate Diploma in Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. By doing this, the successful candidates from these interviews are already getting an introduction to some of the ways that co-production can be used."


Girl with pink hair and glasses looking into camera

Elsie Whittington (Participation Lead Children & Young Peoples Programmes)

Elsie says: "I’m the participation Lead for Children, Young People, parents and carers at the Psychological Therapies Training Centre. I’ve got a varied background doing Children and Young people’s Participation while working in youth services, sex education, university research centres, safeguarding and Child sexual exploitation as well as Mental Health and Wellbeing. 

"All my work prioritises youth centred and participatory methods.  I think it’s really important to bring young people and adults together to learn about and discuss issues that affect children and young people now.

"In my last job at the Greater Manchester Combined Authority I was the Youth Co-creation lead for a big wellbeing project called ‘#BeeWell’ which I explain in this video:  Championing the importance of listening to children and young people - BBC Children in Need . This work is a great resource for those working on wellbeing with children and young people in a variety of settings!  

"I always advocate for the importance of informal education and youth work approaches to support young people to develop competence and confidence to take up space and have their voice heard. Together we work to understand individual issues, see how they are linked to wider structures and inequalities and to shift policy and practice to be more inclusive and youth centred and pay attention to anti-oppressive practice. 

"I’m hoping to further embed participatory ways of working to help practitioners, trainees and the children, young people, and families they work with to co-produce more positive outcomes. 

"There are plans beginning to brew around training days on the Lundy Model of Participation and children's rights, supporting participation leads across the Northwest to be braver about sharing power with younger people and celebrating just how much children and young people can, and already do contribute to shifting conversations about mental health and wellbeing.

"I’ll also be supporting young people, parents, and carers to co-develop and co-deliver teaching across the PTTC courses and getting them meaningfully involved in recruiting and interviewing."

One of the joys of co-production is not knowing where it will take you, so there is no predicting how this process will work out. The learning is always in the journey, and the results invariably speak for themselves!

As a patient

As a service user, relative or carer using our services, sometimes you may need to turn to someone for help, advice, and support. 

Find resources for carers and service users  Contact the Trust