In2gr8mentalhealth.com was set up a year ago to create an online community for ‘dual-experienced’ mental health professionals, i.e. those who have lived experience of mental health difficulties (whether they have sought support from MH services or not).
Following the set-up of the members only peer support web forum, there was interest in setting up local member peer support groups around the country. One has started in London, due to re-convene in the new year, and we are pleased to share that we are organising a group based in Liverpool. The group will be open to multidisciplinary mental health practitioners, in training and qualified, in the North West who have lived experience of psychological distress.
Three introductory meetings will be held for those who wish to find out more about the meeting, share some experiences (if this felt comfortable), and to consider what people might want from a peer support group. If you wished to join, you would become a member of in2gr8 so you were linked in in solidarity not only with the local peer support group, but also our growing national network of supportive members and central web forum.
The second introductory meeting is on 12th December in Liverpool. Attendance is ticketed through Eventbrite with a link to this here. The peer group meetings will be facilitated by local members of the in2gr8mentalhealth community, and the aim is to provide a safe space to discuss some of the experiences, challenges, and strengths of being ‘dual-experienced’. The group is a peer support group, it is not group therapy, it doesn't take the place of clinical supervision, and there is no discussion of any case material. There is clear group guidance which is shared at meetings, support as peer groups run, and the guidance of what a peer group is is discussed at the beginning of each meeting.
It will hopefully allow practitioners to meet others with similar experiences who want to discuss how they navigate their identities in a mental health scene still too split between 'us and them'.
Molly Rhinehart is an in2gr8mentalhealth member and one of the members of the emerging North West peer group, and spoke about her experience:
"When I first began to try and navigate being both a service user and a trainee psychologist, this felt like an incredibly isolating experience, like I was the only person with these experiences. Discovering the In2gr8mh community has been a powerful experience to realise I wasn’t alone, and I was really keen in transferring this to a regular face to face group. I wasn’t too sure what the first meeting in Liverpool would be like, but it was a wonderful opportunity to connect with others in a safe and containing space, and I’m looking forward to the next meeting”
If you would like to set up an In2gr8 peer support group in your local area, for all disciplines of mental health professionals with lived experience of mental health difficulties (eg psychiatrist, psychologist, mental health nurse, mental health social worker and so forth) please email@example.com to speak to Founder, Natalie Kemp who will go through the process and guidance with you.
Themes that in2gr8 peer groups cover are:
How we understand our identity as someone who has accessed support, public or private, and being a professional working to support others in mental health.
Thoughts about how discussions range, differ and are similar between our different mental health professions and roles.
Our experiences of the options and choices of sharing current difficulties of mental ill health, as a mental health professional, at different career stages and with different role responsibilities at work. How that has been received, what has been done to support, what has been missing, what could be improved. Experiences of Occupational Health, line management and HR.
Our experiences of organisational responsibility to provide nourishing environments for the emotional labour of human work, barriers to that, and of toxic environments.Thoughts about all levels of the systems in which we work.
Thoughts about the meanings, differences and crossovers between the words and phenomena: ‘lived experience’, ‘wound triggering’, ‘vicarious trauma’, ‘dual identity / status / experience / perspective’ and ‘burnout’ ‘mental ill health’, 'psychological distress', 'mental health problems', post traumatic growth, gifts and transformations of having suffered, paying this forward, hope, empathy, compassion.
Thoughts about all the reasons someone might choose to share lived experience, past or present.
Thoughts about stigma. Theories and models we might have come across to help us understand why this happens and what helps to break it down. What narratves does stigma silence?
Thoughts about lived experience and activism, systems and processes in our training institutions, our workplaces and professional bodies, relationships to unions.
Our thoughts and experiences of sharing in the therapeutic relationship, what does emerging research and viewpoints of those accessing services tell us? What has been our own experience? What is the position of sharing to the containment of distress in the other? When could it help? When could it hinder?
Our experiences of mental health problems as professionals, implications for power and privilege, for different types of mental health knowledge (experienced versus researched), and the ‘us provider / them user’ divide.
We are donation friendly, all proceeds via direct donations or through buying a badge, go to the running of the in2gr8 peer support via the website and local groups.