The role of voluntary organisations in providing mental health services locally is a matter for local national health service organisations. Local voluntary and community organisations can draw on the wealth of experience of their local communities in meeting the needs of people they work with, including people experiencing poor mental health who may also feel socially excluded. Some of these organisations have experience of helping people to manage their own mental health better in the community—including through peer support services, user-led self-help groups, mentoring and befriending, and time-banking schemes, which enable service users to be both providers and recipients of support.
Well-managed and well-supported volunteering opportunities can help people to develop the skills and confidence to play a more active role in their own wellbeing and their community, and to influence the shape and scope of local services. Innovative approaches aimed at involving service users and the wider community can also help to break down barriers and reduce stigma.