Mental Health Network

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Strong and engaged mental health sector that make sense of needs and take collective action


1. Advise and advocate to the government on emerging issues

2. Monitor the implementation of government policy

3. Peer exchange and learning among members

Use cases of the Network:

-for VWO own strategic planning purposes

-for policy advocacy, more powerful when sector speaks with one voice

-inform planning for policymakers

Guiding Principles

-These principles and rules should be work in progress and seen as such. No need to be overly concerned with getting them right if they will continuously be reworked and refined. More important to focus on the work itself, and getting to a set of principles that allow the work and objectives to be done. We expect these principles and rules to be more functional after a year of experimentation.

-All-can-contribute: it doesn’t matter who you are, as long as you are interested and have something to contribute, we aspire to find a place and role for you to play that you feel comfortable with

-Collaboration: empowering individuals and organisations to mobilise others operating in their sector, overcoming artificial boundaries (VWO, NGO, social enterprise, self-help groups, cooperatives, faith-based organisations etc) and competition as the only viable operating principle

Tips for giving good feedback at Networks -be honest -be specific (explain what you disagree with or don't understand) -be constructive (suggest how to improve) -comment on the most important things first

Network Issues to Discuss and Resolve

-Should we devise a system to reward members who contribute to sector knowledge?

-Do we need a formal process to certify or legitimise members or facilitators?


Membership Criteria and Rules


Facilitator: 1) Visit NGOs or other organisations part of a particular sector to get them on board; 2) Translate knowledge of these organisations onto the wiki page; 3) Convene meetings with the network of agencies to talk though the knowledge base; 4) Liaison with backbone teams that are part of the collaborative to secure support for your social cause (eg meeting rooms, funds for wikithons, communications campaign etc). [High commitment]

Members: Organisation or group that plays a role or has interest in the particular social cause (VWO, NGO, Social Enterprise, Support group etc). [Medium commitment]

Associates & Contributors: Programmes or departments of an organisation can be an associate member (e.g. NVPC CoLabs). Interested individuals who are able to provide useful inputs to the knowledge base (Researchers, students, caregivers or clients etc). [Low commitment]

List of Members


IPS - Justin Lee


[Add link to contact information accessible only to members]

Associates and Contributors


Meeting Structure and Rules


-Aspire to have quarterly meetings per year: members set agenda and simple polling can be done to prioritise

-All members will automatically be invited to attend. Associates will be invited based on the issue at hand and members can deliberate who they want to invite. e.g. VWOs may not want their funders or regulators present as it may impede forthcoming dialogue or sharing.

-Members will also discuss and source for speakers where their presence is required to shed light on kowledge gaps of interest.

-Between the quarterly meetings, members are free to have separate meetings, commission studies or seek partnerships to investigate or discuss issues not on the main agenda, but will be integrated into the annual needs and gaps report.

-All reports will be sent to members for their inputs and final approval before it becomes 'official' and published online.

-Where a member is not able to make a meeting, they should aspire to send a deputy. Reports will be sent to all members so that they get a chance to provide inputs even if they were unable to attend. (In order not to hold back publication dates, reports will reflect which members who were unable to provide inputs in time, and these rpeorts be amended once they are able to).

-Where members disagree on the content or position taken by the paper there are various options:

1) If there is a majority view, the paper can be written to reflect that, but capturing the organisations who dissent and their reasons.

2) Not publish a position paper if the opinions are relatively split.

3) Publish a paper that reflects the diversity of views and their rationale, so that there is a documentation of the report.

Meeting Structure


1-Take Stock of Needs and Gaps

2-Convene to Prioritize Knowledge Gaps

3-Set Meeting Agenda for the Year


1-An issue brief will be sent out to members before convening

2-Take stock of knowledge gaps and prioritise them

3-At the meeting, members will deliberate on proposed policy recommendations or advocacy positions: policy or position paper will be written based on deliberations

4-Decide on how to present position if there is no consensus

5-Coordination and division of labour: Follow-up items; who will investigate what?

6-At the end of each session, there will be an opportunity for members to reflect on and suggest amendments to all the various the guiding principles and rules of the Mental Health Network (Purpose, Membership or Meetings)


1-Consolidate all findings for Annual Needs and Gaps Report

2-Facilitator will write up and send to all members

3-Once approved by members, report will be published online

Deliverables and Products

1-Issues briefs prior to each session

2-Position papers or policy briefs as a result of each session. There can also be feasibility studies, programme proposals, collective impact plans depending on the interests of the members.

3-A needs and gaps report to be written at the end of the year

Agenda for 2018

Main meetings should be based on broad themes of general relevance to most of our members. For example: intervention, employment, caregiving, community inclusion etc. Specific or niche issues can also be studied by sub-groups of the network and brought to the Network for incorporation to the annual Needs & Gaps Report.

Meeting 1: Employment?

Date - ?

Venue - LKYSPP

Proposed Agenda

- Take stock of employment landscape; facilitated dialogue based on issue brief (IPS)


- ? (Invite SGE to update on __)

- ?


- Issue Brief: Employment Policies and Services for People with Mental Health Issues

- Position paper: Recommendations on Anti-Discrimination Legislation

Follow-up Actions

- ? (eg Survey on employment discrimination commissioned by __)

- ? (eg Employment Sub-group formed to investigate job procurement issues, will update at next Meeting)

Meeting 2: Education?



Proposed Agenda

- Take stock of Education landscape; facilitated dialogue based on issue brief (IPS)


- ?

- ?


- Issue Brief:

- Position paper:

Follow-up Actions

- ?

- ?

Meeting 3: Community Inclusion?



Proposed Agenda

- Take stock of Community Inclusion; facilitated dialogue based on issue brief (IPS)


- ?



- Position paper:

Follow-up Actions

Meeting 4: Caregiving?



Proposed Agenda

- Complete Collective Stock Take of Needs & Gaps (IPS)

Needs and Gaps Report Draft

Follow-up Actions

Useful References

On building networks

On how to facilitate good conversations

Some principles of facilitating group dialogue

Mental Health Councils and what they do

On referendums and democratic decision-making

Switzerland's unique form of direct democracy allows groups of citizens to call for national referendums on specific policies if validated signatures of 100,000 Swiss citizens are collected in support of a proposal. Possible to consider a similar mechanism for networks here.

On guiding principles

From Steven Johnson (2001) Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software: complex systems exhibit emergence because they “solve problems by drawing upon masses of relatively (simple) elements, rather than a single, intelligent “executive branch.” They are bottom-up systems, not top-down. They get their smarts from below. In more technical language, they are complex adaptive systems that display emergent behavior. In these systems, agents residing on one scale start producing behavior that lies one scale above them: ants create colonies; urbanites create neighborhoods; simple pattern-recognition software learns how to recommend new books. The movement from low-level rules to higher-level sophistication is what we call emergence” (Johnson 2001: 18)