ABOUT VOXAll the gen on VOX – its governance, structure and purpose
VOX Scotland is Scotland’s national voice on mental health – we represent our members’ views to Scotland’s politicians and health professionals to make sure Scotland’s laws and mental health services reflect service user needs and interests. VOX is Scotland’s only national mental health advocacy organisation run by service users for service users.
I have been a Service User for many years, and was a founding Director of VOX before I stepped down. For the past 3yrs, I have been the (elected) Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists SUF (Service User Forum), and came to the end of my Term of Office at Congress at the end of June. I am keen for the knowledge & skills I gained there to be of use to VOX, for whom I am passionate about. VOX must be a strong voice, and have influence across the board, and contribute to work such as ‘Mental Health in Scotland – a 10 year vision’. I am also one of the leadership team members for Ayrshire & Arran on the Scottish Patients Safety Programme amongst other things.
I am keen to ensure VOX’s board focus on governance, and to enable the main priorities of the members to be taken forward and prioritised as much as possible.
I’m a member of HUG – action for mental health in the highlands, and a director of Support in Mind (where I’m a member of the financial committee and P.A.C committee). I have personal experience of mental health problems, and i am delighted to be a director of VOX as its so important for people to have a voice and to influence policy.
Joined VOX: 2018
VOX Director since: 2018
I worked full time for a national charity at executive level for several years until 2016. My initial role was unique in that I was able to influence policy by attending a variety of events and sharing my own personal experience of mental health, long term unemployment and homelessness. Through working in this role as an ambassador, I was encouraged to apply for promotion where I successfully managed the delivery of several employability programmes for young people for three years.
I have experience in public speaking and stakeholder engagement, event management and presenting. I have recently qualified in training design and delivery and in the initial stages of creating a business offering workshops in equality and diversity in the workplace. I enjoy working with a diverse range of people and have a passion for positively challenging inequality and discrimination.
I am a group member director on behalf of Psychiatric Rights Scotland. The aims of Psychiatric Rights Scotland are: to campaign for human rights in psychiatric settings; to ensure that Scottish legislation is compatible with international law; to ensure that patients are treated with dignity and respect ; to ensure patients are not harmed by unnecessary medication; to ensure that carers’ views are enforced; to ensure that complaints are fully investigated etc. Psychiatric Rights Scotland are members of the Cross Party Working Groups for Carers, Human Rights and Mental Health.
I am a former Scottish Chess Champion and gained 641 votes in the 2016 Holyrood election.
Joined VOX: 2007
VOX Director since: 2014
I joined VOX because I’ve always felt that people with a lived experience of mental health issues need a national voice, and I participated in the meetings and events which helped set up VOX. I’m also actively involved with the Highland Users Group (HUG) and I hope my experience of other Boards (such as HUG) helps me in my VOX work.
I’ve become involved in a wide range of mental health activities through VOX. I participated in the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) in Australia in 2009 and learned about concepts such as Peer Support and the Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). I also attended the 15thEuropean Symposium on Suicide and Suicidal Behaviour in 2014 and myself and one other VOX member were the only two service users among three hundred delegates – which shows how seriously VOX takes its role of making sure the voice of people with a lived experience is heard loud and clear!
I represent VOX on the Advisory Committee of the Mental Welfare Commission and I’m monitoring the development of the new Mental Health Bill. Along with a VOX colleague, I helped develop the concept of Advance Statements and Named Persons for the Scottish Executive before the 2003 Act was passed.
Outside of VOX, I do a lot of volunteering with HUG, delivering mental health awareness training and representing HUG in NHS Highland meetings. I’m a member of the Highland Mental Health Scottish Patient Safety Programme team and I’ve also recently set up a network in Lochaber for service users, carers, professionals and anyone else interested in mental health – we aim to share information on resources and support services and show how these can be accessed, and we recently received a ‘seeding grant’ to help with our work.
I’ve done quite a few things over the years. I was a Chemistry teacher before moving up to the Highlands and I’ve also worked with older people, been a mental health support worker, worked for HUG and for Advocacy Highland. We moved to the Highlands partly for the sailing opportunities (my husband and I bought a small boat before we had anything other than a touring caravan to live in!) and living in a small rural community has sharpened my interest in health inequalities in remote and rural areas.
I first became interested in advocacy work twenty years ago while volunteering for a project in Lochaber. Graham Morgan (HUG Manager) led two of the training sessions and this was the first time I openly discussed my own mental health difficulties. I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in 2007 and sectioned in 2008 while manic. I developed very helpful relationships with some of the professionals who cared for me and I strongly believe that everyone else should experience the same good standard of care. I’m very fortunate in that my husband doesn’t feel that mental health should be stigmatised and supports me in everything I do.
I have been involved with VOX for a number of years now, I am also an active member of HUG – action for Mental Health in the Highlands.
NON- MEMBER DIRECTORS
Kate McCormack is a Team Manager (Mental Health) in North Ayrshire Council’s Social Work Department and advises VOX on Social Work.
Maria Docherty is a registered Mental Health Nurse and Associate Director of Nursing for Mental Health and Learning Disabilities in NHS Lanarkshire. Her 28-year career has been devoted to advocating and caring for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues.
Elaine Hunter is the Allied Health Professions Advisor for Mental Health to the Scottish Government and advises VOX on all matters relating to Allied Health Professions.
Ronald Franks is responsible for Legal Services Agency’s Mental Health Legal Representation Projects and a part-time legal member and convener of the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland. He is a member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Mental Health and Disability Sub- Committee and Adults with Incapacity Specialist Accreditation Panel. He is the lead author of Greens Annotations to The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003 and editor of the Mental Health Section of Mays Scottish Social Work Legislation.
VOX staff implement VOX priorities on a day to day basis. Learn more about VOX staff and their areas of responsibility from the profiles below – it’s always good to know who you’re talking to when you call the office!