Listening to the voices of people living with mental health issues

18 SEPTEMBER 2020

Listening to the voices of people living with mental health issues

A new resource has engaged people with lived experiences of mental health issues to share their stories as a way of educating current and future health professionals.

Healthcare experts have long led conversations and knowledge development about mental illness, however, a new innovative resource positions people who have lived the journey as the experts.

This new resource has engaged people with lived experiences of mental health issues to share their stories as a way of educating current and future health professionals.

  • The resource explores key aspects of the mental health journey, including background trauma, being in the mental health system, the stigma of a diagnosis, and the hope of living a fulfilled life.
  • The resource aims to facilitate authentic understanding and empathy and assist students and professionals to gain insight into mental health issues from the perspective of those with lived experience.

Last night more than 160 people attended an online launch, providing an opportunity to view some of the exciting materials and facilitating discussion about how the resource may be used.

The development of the online learning resource involved a unique collaboration between consumers, health, education and the arts with involvement from the Listening to Voices project, Gateway Health, Charles Sturt University and the Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health.

Charles Sturt University academic Dr Tracey Parnell said the resource offers the opportunity to expose the students to perspectives that cannot be learnt from a textbook.

“Educators can positively engage students in contemporary conversations about mental health issues, provide them with an appreciation of the importance of the consumer voice, and prepare them for respectful, collaborative, strengths-based, and person-centred practice,” Dr Parnell said.

Three Rivers UDRH Director Ms Christine Howard said they were delighted to support the development of these innovative teaching materials, which have been uniquely co-produced by people living with and experiencing mental health issues in a regional community.

“Three Rivers is committed to supporting the growth and development of the rural health workforce, and professionals from all health disciplines will benefit from the personal stories and teachings within these resources,” Ms Howard said.

“The development of this vital resource has been made possible with funding from the Australian Government’s Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.”

The experts by experience, Ben, Jain, Kelly and Sarah, hope that their contribution will not only support the education of future professionals but will also reduce the stigma associated with mental health issues, and improve service provision for people with these experiences.

“It’s a message of hope and recovery and humanity to people who are going to be the healthcare professionals of the future,” said Mr Ben Pearson, performer.

Gateway Health Project Manager Ms Kate Fiske said the stories are a true act of courage and advocacy from four people who have experienced the mental health system. Their stories and their voices are at the heart of others’ learning.

“This time, their words matter, their experience matters. There’s a power shift,” Ms Fiske said.

This innovative resource aims to facilitate the development of a future health workforce that appreciates best practice, is person-centred, and utilises lived experience to guide interactions with consumers. The resource includes an informative handbook for educators.

See the trailer here: https://player.vimeo.com/video/448919132?fbclid=IwAR16sDJA_qC27QtdEGyuC5E1pQ13qPayiyPPTHoh0D7YpWEXX4QwjN9Egu0

Media Note:

For more information, please contact: Dr Tracey Parnell

tparnell@csu.edu.au 02 6051 9262 or 0429 351 706

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, call the Mental Health Line 1800 011 511, Lifeline 13 11 14 or call 000.

Three Rivers University Department of Rural Health aims to improve the recruitment and retention of nursing, midwifery, allied health and dentistry professionals in rural and remote Australia. It is led, administered and operated by Charles Sturt University in consortium partnership with The University of Notre Dame, University of New South Wales and Western Sydney University. Three Rivers UDRH is supported by funding from the Australian Government under the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.

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Health Society and Community Three Rivers