"They’ve been there, they know”. How mental health service users think about mental health staff with lived experience.

Elanor Lewis-Holmes

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Many practitioners with lived experience of mental health problems themselves work in NHS mental health services, and recovery oriented policy encourages such practitioners to use their lived experience to support service users. Research, mostly from the perspective of practitioners with lived experience (as opposed to the perspectives of service users), suggests there are benefits to service users in using lived experience, such as increased hope, along with disadvantages such as practitioners over-identifying. Professional guidance for such practitioners however is ambiguous and mainly focuses upon preventing risk to service users from impaired practice. This leaves practitioners without support in using their lived experience in a way that is helpful to service users.
This Grounded Theory study aimed to develop theory explaining the factors service users took into account when thinking about practitioners with lived experience, and if and how practitioners should disclose this. Eight people who had used NHS mental health services in the last five years were interviewed about their views and experiences of practitioners with lived experience.
Analysis resulted in a theoretical model which showed that disclosure can lead to hope and worry, both of which are mitigated by five theoretical codes about: competence, recovery, relevant lived experience, NHS context, and stigma. Guidance about the use of lived experience in the clinical setting is offered. Further research with different populations to test the assumptions of the model is recommended.
Original languageEnglish
Award date1 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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