During the year 2010 and onward, it became increasingly clear to service users and carers that the mental health provision in our area was unsatisfactory and was failing to deliver to previously agreed service standards.

Therefore, it was decided by Bristol Primary Care (who later became Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group, now expanded to be the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group) that a new mental health service would be developed.

Much consultation then followed to ensure that all users and carers could have their say on what they wanted and expected from a new mental health service. One important factor came through all of the discussions and it was agreed that any new service provided should be Bristol based and specific to Bristol area.

It had become clear during the consultations with service users and carers that a new group was required – the old service user group had disbanded. Meetings were therefore held to discuss the possibility of such a group and if, when, and how it should be formed.

After discussion and the sharing of numerous views and opinions, it was finally decided to form Bristol Independent Mental Health Network (BIMHN) and this group would seek to represent all mental health groups and individuals within the Bristol area. BIMHN was officially formed in August 2014 with a number of committee members being elected by the membership for the initial 12 months.

We held our first AGM on August 11th 2015 at which new members were elected to the committee and our constitution was agreed. This constitution enabled BIMHN to become a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO). Later that year, the Independent Mental Health Network (IMHN) was registered with the Charity Commission, of which BIMHN became the branch. IMHN has now expanded to include Clarity-North Somerset Independent Mental Health Network, which operates in the neighbouring county of North Somerset.