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Mental Health Professionals Speak Out On Mental Health Experiences: in2gr8mentalhealth 2023 Survey 

Updated: 5 days ago

Hi, I am Ashley, a 3rd year Clinical Psychology trainee currently on placement with in2gr8. In 2023, in2gr8mentalhealth, CIC launched a survey to better understand our peer community, and I am pleased to be reporting on this work.  

Before we get going, here is a QR Code for our 2024 survey, or this link if you are a mental health professional, with lived experience of mental health difficulties, please consider filling it in!: 

The 2023 survey captured demographic information and included the difficulties experienced by our peers, supports accessed, and suggested improvements and recommendations for in2gr8mentalhealth to consider. So, let’s look at what our peer community has shared, what we can do at ingr8mentalhealth to offer our continued support, and continue our journey toward destigmatising and empowering those with lived experience of mental health difficulties (all have mental health) across the mental health professions!  

We are very grateful for the 74 respondents who were willing to share their lived experiences with us at in2gr8mentalhealth. A message directly to those who took part – thank you, you help us better represent what people go through in our community when we train into the system and Peer mentor others. Because of you, others feel less alone, and the system learns more and more how to check its actions. We acknowledge that our peer respondents to this survey are a proportion of mental health professionals with lived experience of mental health difficulties out there – we consider you all a part of our wider community.  

Breakdown of Respondents By Profession 

100% of our peer respondents who took part identified with having lived experience of mental health difficulties. This survey had responses mostly from  females (approx. 90%), aged between 25-44 years old  (approx.70%), and majority White British (approx. 60%). In the UK, the clinical psychology profession has tended to have an over-representation of white women, and therefore, these results are not unusual. Whilst some mentees have identified as belonging to the minoritized global majority, at in2gr8mentalhealth CIC we continue to consider what can be done to ensure diversity is known as being always welcomed with open arms.  

The survey also highlighted the breakdown of our respondents by profession, which included aspiring, trainee or qualified psychologists, counsellors, therapists, and other mental health professionals such as mental health nurses. A large proportion of respondents in this survey were from the psychology profession; this is likely due to the background professions of the in2gr8metnalhealth CIC team and the place their activism was born out of. Nevertheless, the team are making good links with those from other mental health professions, e.g., art psychotherapy and Mental Health Nursing. 


Peer Experiences of Mental Health Difficulties 

All survey respondents mentioned experiencing ‘bouts,’ ‘periods,’ or having ‘fluctuating’ mental health difficulties, whilst others referred to their mental health as ‘recurrent’, highlighting the reality of mental health difficulties for many who experience them, irrelevant of their profession, as something that is fluid by nature, a transition, or an ongoing journey. 


Our respondents detailed what their mental health experiences consisted of, we asked them to describe them for us rather than providing any kind of list. Looking through this list of diagnoses or experiences, it struck me as a not altogether different picture from the presenting difficulties of clients from a range of backgrounds that I have seen as an assistant or trainee psychologist myself. 

Peer Experience of Fear, Stigma and Sharing 

Experiencing mental health difficulties for anyone, regardless of who you are, often comes with fear and stigma. This was no different for me personally, when I was making sharing decisions about my own difficulties, and from the results of this survey seems no different for any members of our peer community, treading both sides of the client/patient and professional line.  

Research indicates that sharing lived experiences comes with its pros and cons. A 2021 study by Hudson, Arnaertt & Lavoie-Tremblay (2021) argues that sharing lived experience starts with weighing its pros (i.e., personal benefits, beliefs, and professional responsibility) and cons (fears related to professional identity, fears related to employment, risk of stigmatization and personal experiences with mental health difficulties). With this in mind, 48% of respondents to our community survey reported negative experiences of sharing their lived experience with others, while approx. 40% reported a positive reaction to sharing their lived experience. Respondents named a range of people they shared their difficulties with, including managers, followed by peer colleagues, then peers outside work but not within work, or patients/clients. However, 8% indicated they had not shared their lived experience with anyone. 

I found myself asking; why does mental illness-related stigma exist among mental health professionals or the NHS? What, from any type of mental health training we do, creates the assumption that we are then almost immune from struggles that other members of society may have? I can confidently say we are not exempt; we are very much still human, both during and after training, so how can we normalise the idea that we too may need support?  


Peer Mental Health Difficulties and the Workplace 

Respondents went on to indicate times when they needed to take paid sick leave due to mental health lived experience (73%) and/or unpaid sick leave due to lived experience (23%). 30% expressed they needed to leave their job due to their mental health struggles, and 5% indicated they had even been sacked or made redundant due to their lived experience. Moreover, periods of financial hardship, while qualified due to lived experience, were experienced by 20% of those who completed our survey. Furthermore, due to lived experiences of mental health difficulties, 57% of respondents received Occupational health advice, 23% received HR advice, 12% were referred for fitness to practice by a manager, 5% indicated they self-referred to fitness to practice, and finally, 1.5% highlighted that they had been referred via University fitness to practice proceedings.  

I wondered how our governing and professional bodies such as the HCPC or the BABCP could provide more support, guidance, or resources to reduce the number of professionals forced to leave their job because of mental health difficulties?  

We are considering this in one of our upcoming webinars , which will cover HR processes and employment law…we also have good connections with the HCPC and plan to do some work with them around destigmatising mental health difficulties and fitness to practice fear and lowering the rates of self-referral. 

Peer Access To Support 

Varying forms of support were highlighted by our peer community, ranging from local GP support to primary mental health care, as well as inpatient/crisis team support. For me, this reinforced even further the lack of differences between where clients I’ve seen on placement go for support, versus where a colleague sat beside me in an MDT meeting may seek support.    


Regarding psychological therapy, we learned from our peers that 30% received psychological support from IAPT or a secondary care psychology team. 23% used a staff counselling service, with 60% stating they accessed counselling privately. 11% used other counselling services. 1.5% stated they received self-help support and 3% spoke about private sessions with a psychologist. 9% mentioned private therapy including psychodynamic psychotherapy and Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) long-term. While a further 1.5% spoke of psychological therapy, including attachment focused EMDR, counselling with a focus on somatic experiences, and CAT reformulation therapy.  

Alternative forms of psychiatric and psychological support included 31% being prescribed medication in the short-term and 60% prescribed medication to use for the long-term,  holistic therapies (26%),  peer support (31%), mentoring (15%), and 1.5% stated their university has offered staff mentoring support. Finally, 70% reported receiving mental health support from family or friends.  

Peer Experiences of in2gr8mentalhealth Offerings 

Shifting to think of our offerings, it was heartwarming to hear from our peer community on the ways in which in2gr8mentalhealth CIC has supported them. People spoke of the peer mentoring as being particularly beneficial and it being a positive experience because it was a safe space to reflect on their lived experiences. 36% felt supported via watching the ‘in conversation series’, 29% felt supported through using in2gr8mentalhealth’s online forum, 14% reported finding receiving individual mentoring helpful, with 10% stating they enjoyed attending group peer mentoring.  



14% stated they felt supported from attending an event which in2gr8mentalhealth CIC had attended, with 9% benefitting from a training event that in2gr8mentalehalth CIC had delivered at their university. Furthermore, 8% stated they attended the research network or research meetings and lastly, 72% stated they follow updates and messages of in2gr8mentalhealth CIC on social media.  

Lastly, turning to suggested improvements or recommendations by our peers. People reported recognising that in2gr8mentalhealth CIC remains the only organisation that exists for mental health professionals with lived experience.  

 We really value our peers' experiences and voices in continuing to help shape the work we do at in2gr8mentalhealth CIC, and it has been a pleasure for me to write this blog post. 


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