Strategic Plan for Peer Advocacy in Mental Health
Peer Advocacy in Mental Health (PAMH) is a charitable organisation committed to supporting and empowering individuals experiencing mental health challenges through peer advocacy and training. Established more than twenty years ago, PAMH has long been pioneers in the development of peer advocacy services and modern mental health policy.
To ensure that they could continue to grow and deliver their vital services across the island of Ireland, in May 2019, PAMH (then known as the Irish Advocacy Network) engaged 2into3 in the development of a Strategic Plan that would increase their capacity and put sustainable structures in place for the future.
About Peer Advocacy in Mental Health
Based in Dublin, PAMH operates a free and confidential peer advocacy service, which in 2019 served 24 counties across the island of Ireland. The organisation uses a self-referral system, with clients approaching advocates of their own volition. PAMH offers accredited training and development for Peer Advocates and in self-advocacy. PAMH is also a member of various working groups and committees that inform policy on mental health in Ireland.
Leading principle of PAMH
PAMH exists on the basis that living through a period of mental ill health is something that can be ‘harvested’ for the benefit of others. The lived experience of the peer advocate enables deep human connection, hope and inspiration when the peer advocate client finds themselves challenged with their mental health. Living through a period of mental ill health is an essential criterion to become a practicing advocate for the Irish Advocacy Network. This is the antithesis of the general approach of employers in many employment sectors across the world where career opportunities are denied of those who declare a period of mental ill health in their life.
In a 2018, Ireland ranked joint third for the highest rates of mental health illness in Europe, with some 18.5% of the Irish population reported to have a mental health disorder in 2016 (OECD, 2018, Health at a Glance: Europe 2018). Despite some deficits in Ireland’s policy infrastructure surrounding mental health, there has been significant reform in recent decades and increasing transparency, particularly following Ireland’s infamous culture of institutionalisation, with a shift toward community solutions for treating those experiencing mental health challenges.
Two key issues identified by PAMH were gaps in capacity and funding. With limited resources in terms of both staff and finances, the organisation felt increasing strain on their ability to deliver crucial supports to people experiencing mental health challenges. Moreover, in entering its 20th year, the organisation found itself at a crossroads; in an increasingly competitive funding space, PAMH was aware that reviewing its funding and adapting to rapidly evolving policy and economic landscapes would be crucial. A review of the organisation’s reason for existence would allow for renewed vitality and a reconnection with key stakeholders.
2into3 undertook a consultative and participative process of strategic development with PAMH, involving staff, clients and other key stakeholders.
A new Mission, Vision and Values were agreed, allowing the organisation to reaffirm its purpose and clarify its path forward and underpinning future decision-making. These are as follows:
- Mission: To be an Island wide, independent, peer-run, peer-led, organisation that empowers people experiencing mental health challenges to improve the quality of their lives through advocacy, support, training and development
- Vision: Where everyone experiencing Mental Health Challenges feels empowered to create their own futures
- Values: Person-Centred, Respect, Empathy, Support, Non-Judgemental, Authentic.
An Organisational Diagnostic exercise, where stakeholders applied a SWOT analysis tool to examining PAMH’s organisational capacity, funding model and service user experience. These provided insight into the key opportunities and challenges facing the organisation.
Informed by the Diagnostic, 11 Strategic Goals were identified under the headings of Impact, Sustainability, and Positioning. These goals aimed to be ambitious, quantifiable and achievable.
Based on the Goals, a four-part Strategy was identified, focussing on programme investment, income diversification and augmentation, organisational capacity development through recruitment, and an identity review.
An operational plan was developed for the first 12-months of the Strategy, and a five-year financial plan, with targets and projections, was finalised. A new management structure for the organisation was also developed.
Arising from the Strategic Plan were several areas in which PAMH required additional support as they began to implement their new structure and funding model. 2into3 provided advice and support on the implementation of the agreed new management structure, as well as offering support with recruitment.
2into3 supported PAMH in seeking additional core funding to implement its Goals and facilitated the development of a funding case for support. Finally, the organisation undertook a name-change process, where 2into3 facilitated focus groups and consultations in order to identify a new name, and support the organisation’s move from the Irish Advocacy Network to Peer Advocacy in Mental Health.
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In the two years since the completion of Peer Advocacy in Mental Health’s Strategic Plan, the organisation has successfully achieved a number of its Strategic Goals. PAMH have significantly developed their capacity and have successfully obtained increased core and philanthropic funding. They have adopted a new management structure which reduced direct reports to the CEO from 12 to 6 for a more manageable and efficient span of control.
PAMH moved two core support roles in-house, which were previously outsourced, allowing for greater independence and effectiveness. They have developed Board of Directors and have begun a process of rebranding, beginning with the name change and a new logo. They will continue to work to strengthen the PAMH brand so that the organisation is recognised as a key actor in the mental health field.
With their Strategic Plan, PAMH were able to weather the storm of Covid-19, piloting a new, blended model of delivery and continuing to promote self-advocacy and independence for people experiencing mental health challenges.
Interested in our Strategic Planning Services?
Contact Luna Atkins , Head of Strategy Advisory Practice on +353 (021) 237 9838.