Throughout the process of involvement, staff benefit in many ways, this starts with training and continues into skill development, understanding and confidence. Mind, and other organisations, use trainers with lived experience to develop and deliver staff training. This enhances the content giving staff a different perspective during the training and progressing understanding further.
A diverse range of skills are needed to involve people effectively, staff learn how to facilitate group discussions, filter and analyse information as well as develop their communication skills and much more. Their understanding of the needs and challenges people with lived experience face every day is also enhanced enabling them to work more effectively with people.
A trainer with Sheffield User Survivor Trainers (SUST), a network of mental health trainers with lived experience of mental health problems and using mental health services, took part in the development of the toolkit. They told us that participants attending their training, delivered by experts by experience, fed back how incredibly valuable it was to be trained by a person with lived experience. Comments included:
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 within a project, enhancing the service while also bringing wider social benefits.
In addition, 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 can 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.
“I liked the inclusive nature of the course; it was very refreshing to be within a group of service users and this helped to break down the ‘us and them’ boundaries, making it feel like this was about and for everyone, and that mental health applies to us all.”
“I found the course challenging, moving and useful. The training encouraged me to reflect on my responses to self-harm and offending behaviour, and gave me a valuable insight into the potentially negative contact between service users and statutory agencies and how this might be avoided. I particularly valued the contribution of the service user trainers, which really helped to bring the issues alive.”