Staff development in lived experience
Lots of organisations use trainers who have lived experience of mental health problems. This enhances the training, and gives staff a different perspective. On this page, learn how people with lived experience can make the perfect trainers for staff.
What skills do staff need to run lived experience work?
Staff need a diverse range of skills to involve people effectively. They'll need to learn how to:
- Facilitate group discussions
- Filter and analyse information
- Communicate well
They'll also need to have an understanding of the challenges which people with lived experience face every day. This will help them to work more effectively with people.
Benefits of working with trainers with lived experience
Sheffield User Survivor Trainers (SUST) is a network of mental health trainers with lived experience of mental health problems. They told us that participants who attend their training say how valuable it it to be trained by a person with lived experience. Participants have highlighted how:
- First-hand experience is powerful
- Delivery of the training was inclusive, sensitive and gentle
- Trainers were honest and candid, making the material more compelling
- Training helped to break down barriers
Training staff at local Minds
Ystradgynlais Mind, in the western valleys of Wales, is one of the smallest local Minds in the entire network. Members here are involved in training new staff, including counsellors.
This is a great example of how influence and participation has been embedded, improving the service while bringing wider social benefits.
People with lived experience are often asked to share their personal stories as part of the Mind network’s staff training programmes. This can help people to understand how specific conditions affect a worker’s performance, and to better appreciate the importance of being supported at work.
Hearing others talk about their experiences can also inspire staff to be more comfortable opening up about their own mental health problems. As a result, organisations become more ‘mentally healthy’ in their everyday practice.