Whilst totally supporting many of the points that Sharon Racklyeft raised in last week’s Times Series (‘Suicide is not taken seriously enough’, May 7), I was surprised that she feels very much like a lone voice “as there is no campaign group in Barnet”.

As a member of the Barnet Mental Health Partnership Board, she knows that I am one of its co-chairmen and that I head up an organisation called Barnet Voice for Mental Health, which is totally run, managed and staffed (both paid and voluntary) by people who have, or have had mental health problems, many having tried to commit suicide themselves.

There are many other people on the board who have had a personal experience of mental health distress and certainly express their views as well. Barnet Voice doesn’t pretend to be the only voice in the borough, but for the past 21 years, we have worked tirelessly to improve the mental health services in Barnet by what is called group advocacy.

Ms Racklyeft is right when she said that many are too distressed to campaign on their own behalf. That’s why we have made it our business to seek the views of people suffering from mental health distress and feed those views back to both mental health providers and commissioners in a variety of ways.

For instance, one of our members has spent many hours sitting with mental health professionals looking at what lessons could be learnt when someone has committed suicide. This may not be the sort of campaigning Ms Racklyeft feels achieves much.

I think that sometimes we also question what we have achieved over the years, but what I do know is that by working with mental health professionals we have been a voice for those who are too ill to speak up for themselves and that we are listened to by some. One eminent psychiatrist in this borough recently wrote to me saying that in the training we provided for doctors embarking on their psychiatric career, he and they learnt so much from us (and he was the psychiatrist who treated me when I was an inpatient).

I recently received a Public Recognition Award at the House of Comments as someone who has contributed to public health and wellbeing.

I accepted it less for myself but more to validate all of us in Barnet Voice for Mental Health, who have used our mental health problems to improve the services in Barnet, both by our group advocacy work and by offering support in a variety of ways. So, Sharon, you are not a lone voice.

Elsie Lyons

Christchurch Avenue, Finchley