Background: Self-help approaches for mental health problems are a research and service development priority within the UK. Aim: To engage service users in the research process through a consultation exercise, seek their views on the strategies they use to manage their lives and priorities for research into self-help. Method: Service users were involved in planning and conducting a consultation event and in analysing, interpreting and disseminating the findings. Forty nine service users attended the consultation event. Notes and key points from focus groups discussions were analysed to identify main themes. Results: Five themes for service user self-help strategies were identified; managing and structuring the day; empowerment; engaging others to help yourself; physical health and well being; and spirituality. Four research priority areas in self-help were identified: the importance of user-led research; research into self-help strategies to improve physical health and well being; mapping of available services and self-help approaches; and what works and why. Conclusions: Self-help research and developments should take account of these service users' views of research priorities and the strategies they use to manage their lives. Declaration of interest: The project was initiated by Psychological Therapies Network North (PsyReNN). Funding for the venue and service user expenses was provided by the NIMHE Regional Development Centre, North East, Yorkshire and Humberside and by the Tees and North East Yorkshire Mental Health and Learning Disabilities NHS Trust.