The Power of Lived Experience

Jessica from our STAR Communications group talks through the power of lived experience.

Lived experience, and by that I mean going through a particular experience first-hand, is a powerful tool when it comes to shaping services. This is true of any services, but is particularly poignant when it comes to shaping mental health services.

Lived experience gives you an unparalleled insight into the processes that are being used because you have experienced them first-hand. It also gives you an enhanced empathy and way to relate to these experiences because you’ve been through them yourself.

Whether it’s the communications department or frontline mental health services, they can all benefit from being shaped by the voices and views of those who use the services.

The power of personal experience.

I have lived experience of severe mental health issues as I have experienced psychosis. As a part of this I experienced hospitalisation, psychosis early intervention support and crisis care. This gives me insight into what it’s like to use these services first-hand. It also helps when shaping Second Step’s communications as I have lived experience of some of the services the organisation offers. This lived experience gives me empathy into the service user’s journey and insight into places where the journey could have been improved. This is invaluable information when it comes to amending and sculpting these essential mental health and complex needs services.

Second Step champions lived experience.

Coproduction is integral to the way Second Step operates. For the last 30 years, services have been shaped by involving the voices of service users. People who use the organisation’s services have the opportunity to inform and educate and even change the services for the better across various areas from business development to recruitment as part of Second Step’s STAR involvement groups. This empowers service users who can use their experiences to help others in the future, and is invaluable when it comes to sculpting Second Step’s services and making them the best they can be.

An example of the power of coproduction is a Second Step project which looked at changing and updating the paperwork used by service users. A group of service users reviewed the language used, and were part of a group developed training to ensure staff understood why changes had been made. Previously the recovery planning tool used had been called ‘My Future’. The new paperwork dropped this language to better reflect a more manageable, less pressurising approach. It’s thanks to the hard work of people like Marie Karlsson that the processes currently used at Second Step are far more empathetic and user-friendly. It’s wonderful that as an organisation Second Step champions lived experience and harnesses the power of peer support to aid recovery journeys and change outcomes.

Do you have lived experience of Second Step’s services or mental health issues? Find out more about our coproduction groups here.

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