What Do You Do With A 'Problem' Called A Lived Experience Professional?
To all who joined Camilla Hogg and I at the in2gr8mentalhealth Liverpool talk, thank you for your strong presence and discussion. In this meeting, minds met over still remaining negative views of lived experience when someone inhabits a professional role, despite attempts to think otherwise over the years. in2gr8mentalhealth is developing organically. I learn more from every person who joins and who I meet when I travel and ask people's views. I hear a wish for identity exploration, for peer support and for challenging action: we flesh out and seek to understand ourselves in these historical gaps asserted between 'us and them' in mental health services, we seek the knowing support of others who understand what it is like to hold the roles of being a mental health professional balancing self care in systems that don't seem to understand or accept the obvious humanity of that, and we are learning to challenge increasingly clearly any discrimination in systems. There have been writings about this before, perhaps it is coming up again in concert with efforts to emancipate from mental health stigma in wider society. We have always known that lived experience has meaning in our help for others, but we see the mental health scene only able to go as far as valuing this in peer support roles, and has yet to understand what to do with it in professionals... It is though I'm sure just increasingly a point of challenging and development. Why? Because of the future generations. What will young people growing up through the major Heads Together and Time To Change campaigns think when they enter the scene and find themselves strangely quietened down, after having been taught quite rightly to not be ashamed of their lived experiences of mental ill health? We suggest that our institutions and organisations had better get their houses in order, as this shan't be going anywhere very soon for those who might prefer it that way. What do you want to do? Ask them to split themselves up again into 'them and us' after having espoused integration? We have considerable expertise in being able to think about the nuance of professional lived experience, in the wider mental health scene and in therapeutic environments specifically; the latter is an area of further interest and research and it is likely to intersect in some way with learning from peer support work. We do not campaign without due thought for all these angles. I am speaking next about In2gr8mentalhealth at the British Psychological Society conference on The Wellbeing of the Psychology and Psychological Therapy Workforce in Brighton on June 8th. This is for psychological therapists and psychologists only. If there is a wish for any mental health professionals (social workers, mental health nurses, psychologists, therapists, counsellors etc) with lived experience to meet in the south coast and learn more, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be very interested to hear your views.