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Lived Experience

Lived Experience: MHM2

The power of lived experience: Transforming leadership
MHM2 stands at the forefront of promoting understanding and raising awareness about pivotal terms in the mental health sphere such as ‘lived experience,’ ‘Lived Experience expertise,’ and ‘Lived Experience (Peer) Workforces.’ Our roots are firmly entrenched in the lived and living experiences of people, making us a unique, values-based, lived experience-led charity. Born from a grassroots systemic advocacy group in 2010, MHM2 has developed into a powerful catalyst for positive, sustainable change, embedding lived experience expertise in all levels of decision-making.

Lived experience: A key to empathy and understanding

MHM2 defines lived experience as the unique knowledge, skills and understandings gained through direct, first-hand involvement with mental health, alcohol and other drug challenges and possible criminal justice experience as well as those gained through caring for or about an individual with these experiences. Lived Experience expertise is developed through building on lived experience with specific training and development in peer studies. This might include completing the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work or Intentional Peer Support training.
Embarking on a journey to understand what ‘lived experience’ means, introduces us to the captivating and profound stories of individuals who have experienced mental health, alcohol and other drug challenges and criminal justice involvement.
In essence, ‘lived experience’ denotes knowledge gained by direct experience as individuals, family members or supporters. This knowledge cannot be gained from books, reports or research. It’s the knowledge that is only gained with resilience and courage.
‘Lived experience’ represents a living, evolving narrative that continues to influence an individual’s present outlook and future aspirations. It’s a dynamic interplay of past experiences, current realities, and future hopes – a constant process of learning, growing, and evolving.
In the mental health, alcohol and other drug areas, understanding the lived experiences of people is crucial to meeting their needs. This in turn helps to design and deliver services and responses to overcome the challenges, stigma and discrimination experienced. Fostering empathy and sparking human-to-human connection is critical for systemic change.
By embracing ‘lived experience,’ we gain invaluable insight into the human aspect of mental health, alcohol, and drug challenges. It humanises the statistics, the clinical language, and the stereotypes, grounding them in the realities of individual experiences.

People’s stories are important
and their experiences are valuable

Lived experience evolves into ‘Lived Experience expertise’ through structured training and development programs that supplement and build upon individual and familial experiences. This could include completing the Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work or Intentional Peer Support training
The learnings that individuals and families gain from their experiences is valuable and can help inform positive systems change. MHM2 recognises that the definition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s of lived experience recognises the effects of colonisation and ongoing negative impacts on the social and emotional wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. It encompasses the cultural, spiritual, physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the individual, family or community.
The role of Lived Experience (Peer) Workforces
‘Lived Experience (Peer) Workforces’ encompass individuals who have been through similar experiences (consumers) and those who have cared for or about such individuals (family/significant others). They play a pivotal role in the workplace, offering unique perspectives and empathy grounded in first-hand experience.
Diversity is an integral aspect of Lived Experience (Peer) Workforces. MHM2 is committed to fostering an inclusive environment that welcomes a wide range of lived experience perspectives.
The need for consumer and family/significant other lived experience (Peer) workers
Consumer and Family/Significant Other Lived Experience (Peer) workers are a critical part of multi-disciplinary teams. Their unique insights and shared experiences enrich team perspectives, informing a more comprehensive, empathetic approach to care.
Guiding principles and understandings
The principles of Lived Experience (Peer) work revolve around six key pillars: Authenticity, Connection, Mutuality, Human Rights, Humanity and Diversity. Designated Lived Experience (Peer) roles require Lived Experience expertise as an essential criterion. Lived Experience expertise is founded on the peer discipline which is informed by the lived experience movement including Mad Studies.
This is different to employing practitioners from other disciplines such as social work, nursing, allied health, medicine who may have lived experience in their lives but who have not undertaken Lived Experience (Peer) studies.
Essential frameworks and guidelines

To guide and govern the application and development of Lived Experience (Peer) Workforces, there are specific frameworks and guidelines such as the WA Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Framework and the National Lived Experience (Peer) Workforce Development Guidelines.

Building people’s confidence and capabilities: Get in touch
At MHM2, we’re committed to working strategically to embed Lived Experience expertise into the mental health system. alcohol and other drug and criminal justice systems. Our goal is to create better options and improved lives for those facing mental health, alcohol and other drug challenges and possible criminal justice involvement. We believe that by working together in a values-based way, we can make a real difference.
Our long-standing presence in the mental health, alcohol and other drug areas is a testament to our dedication and passion for creating positive change. Over the years, we’ve learned, grown, and evolved, always with the aim of enhancing the lives of those in our community.
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