Case study: Sheffield User Survivor Trainers
Sheffield User Survivor Trainers (SUST) is a network of mental health trainers with lived experience of mental health problems and using mental health services. It was formed in 2007 as part of the Voluntary Action Sheffield (VAS) Mental Health Training Project.
SUST delivers mental health training, supports service users to become trainers themselves and develops written training materials. Members have provided training for a range of people in a variety of settings, including:
- Mind staff
- mental health nursing and occupational therapy students at Sheffield Hallam University
- clinical psychology students at the University of Sheffield
- psychiatrists and other workers from Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust
- course attendees as part of the VAS Mental Health Training Programme.
Members also participate in user influence and participation activities organised by other agencies.
Trainers report that providing training with SUST has a positive impact on their confidence and self-esteem, and can be useful in making sense of their own experience of mental health problems and using services.
What the trainers say
"What did I learn from this experience? Firstly, I discovered that I could deliver effective mental health-related training. One of the most touching aspects of the training was verbal feedback during one of the coffee breaks by a fellow service user. She explained that my description of my overriding guilt complex had really struck a chord with her own experience of depression. To me, this suggested I was effectively communicating a possible symptom of depression, which I believe is essential to training that has a large element of biographical content."
"The bottom line of my experience is that the whole process boosted my self-esteem and confidence, which is a positive outcome in itself! It also acted on a social and networking level, and allowed me to articulate to those outside my direct mental health sphere how crippling depression can be – it is much more than just self-pity or feeling 'sorry for oneself'. It was a good start with many areas to work on, to make the next session that little bit more polished and relevant."