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Lived experience in teaching mental health nursing: Issues of fear and power

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Australian mental health policy clearly articulates recovery focus as the underpinning of mental health services. Barriers to achieving a recovery focus are identified in the literature, with negative attitudes of health professionals receiving particular attention. The involvement of people with lived experience of significant mental health challenges and mental health service use is essential to enhancing more positive attitudes. Lived-experience involvement in the education of nurses is evident; however, it is generally limited and implemented on an ad hoc basis. Overall, there is a paucity of literature on this topic. A qualitative exploratory study was undertaken to elicit the views and perceptions of nurse academics and lived-experience educators about the inclusion of lived experience in mental health nursing education. One major theme to emerge from the research was issues of fear and power, which included three subthemes: facing fear, demystifying mental illness, and issues of power. Lived-experience involvement has an important role to play in the education of nurses in addressing fear and demystifying the experience of mental illness. The power that lived-experience educators exercised in their roles varied considerably, and for many, was limited. Therefore, the effectiveness of lived-experience involvement requires a more equitable distribution of power.




Happell, B., Bennetts, W., Harris, S., Platania-Phung, C., Tohotoa, J., Byrne, L., & Wynaden, D. (2015). Lived experience in teaching mental health nursing: Issues of fear and power. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 24(1), 19–27.

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