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Reflections on madness, compassion and love within the human to human relationship

By May 25, 2018 No Comments

As a professional with lived experience, keynote speaker at this year’s TheMHS Conference Matt Ball, shares his insights on the value of lived experience in the clinical setting.  

1. How did you first become involved in your field?

I first became involved in my field when I was living in a housing community for people with mental health difficulties. I began volunteering in an older person’s day program and I also volunteered at a sports project for people with intellectual disabilities.

2. Why should people come and listen to your talk?

I hope that my talk will offer potential for new conversations about the prevalence of lived experience in the ‘clinical’ workforce, the value of all sorts of lived experience to understanding the strengths and needs of a person in mental distress, how we can view ‘psychosis’ as a legitimate human experience that a person can very often make sense of rather than seeing it as a biological disorder and I will introduce a new word into the lexicon!

3. What’s one thing not many people know about you?

The only other male living in my house is Myrtle the Turtle.

4. Why are you looking forward to coming to Adelaide?

I live in South Australia and whenever I visit Adelaide to present or teach I always meet up and have coffee with Tommy. Tommy is a Big Issue Vendor and we have become friends over the past year. I look forward to catching up with him whenever I visit the city. Also I am excited that TheMHS is in Adelaide as it provides a really valuable opportunity to have important new conversations about mental health and how we see mental distress and how we can respond more compassionately with approaches that are informed by lived experience and less by the dominant medical discourse.

5. Where can people can find out about more about your work? 

– Humane clinic www.humaneclinic.com.au/publications-and-awards

– TheMHS library

– www.facebook.com/humaneclinic/

– www.facebook.com/psychosis365/

– The MHSConference, Adelaide.

S58: PAPERS: Community Involvement & Responses, ‘Just Listening – a community response as a strengths based approach to mental distress’, Thursday, August 30, 2018, 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM, Hall A.

S34: KEYNOTE PRESENTATION: Professional and Lived Experience: “Reflections on madness, compassion and love within the human to human relationship” Thursday, August 30, 2018, 9:00 AM – 10:00 AM, Hall C.

S37(A): KEYNOTE Q&A – Matt Ball; S37(B): SYMPOSIUM 1 HOUR: Workforce: Shaping Conversations & Practices,Thursday, August 30, 2018,
10:30 AM – 12:30 PM, Hall B.

S88: SNAPSHOTS: Peer Workers, ‘Four Years On – A Peer Worker and a Nurse Practitioner Revisit the Value of Lived Experience in the Mental Health Workforce,‘ Friday, August 31, 2018, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM, Riverbank Room 4.

Matt’s TheMHS Conference Abstract 

Professional and Lived Experience: Reflections on madness, compassion and love within the human to human relationship

So often there is a divide between clinical professionals and people with a lived experience; but what might be harnessed from the whisper of the lived experience within the clinical workforce, and how might the lived experience of clinicians inform their work and the human connection with a person in distress?

Drawing on experiences of madness and the journey of being a ‘patient’ in the public system, this presentation will consider how such experiences might inform and contribute to a richer and deeper or ‘right understanding’ of someone else’s reality and the development of a new sense of interconnectedness between the person and the clinician.

Additionally, consideration of how the gift of the compassion and love shown in recovery, both as a person in distress and as person trained as a clinician, has informed the development of an approach that appears to lead to what could be called ‘evaporation of Psychosis (Ball and Picot, 20108), within experience of the human to human relationship.

Recognising the shared potentials for extreme states (often labelled ‘psychosis’), the shared desires for a ‘co-existing same experience’(ibid) and the possibility for mutual growth, has created spaces in mental health systems for the liminal experience of the ‘psychotic person’ and the ‘professional’ to utilise ritual and creativity as an alternative to the goal orientated roar of the traditional mental health ‘cure’, and witnessing whispers of hope in moments when psychosis appears to evaporate within the human to human relationship.

Matt Ball

Matt Ball is a mental health Nurse Practitioner who was recently named the 2017 Mental Health Nurse of the Year by the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

The award recognised Matt’s use of Humane and trauma informed approaches when working with people who hear voices and experiencing psychosis in facilitating an alternative to people who can be labelled “difficult to treat”, “non engaging” or “chronically mentally ill.” Matt brings compassion borne out of personal and professional experience to his role, as well as a determination to look beyond psychiatric labels, and explore, with an individual, the understanding of the person’s story towards personal recovery.

Matt has Introduce the Maastricht approach to hearing voices into the public mental health system in South Australia, including working with over 250 individuals and their families in providing an alternative to the diagnosis and medication dominant approaches. He has also trained over 120 public sector staff of all professions including members of the peer workforce, in the public system. He is co-director and founder of the HUMANE clinic, where he facilitates alternative approaches to working with people labelled as experiencing psychosis.

Matt has written and facilitated workshops in health and broader community sectors, lectures on University programs and provides consultation on understanding and working with Trauma, psychosis and recovery. Matt is currently a trainer with Blue Knot Foundation

Matt has over 15 years’ experience  working with individuals and groups in the United Kingdom and Australia, providing psychotherapy, supervision, education and workshops and consultancy for individuals, families and organisations.

His work has been informed by training and practice in in various psychotherapy, human to humane mental health nursing models, Buddhist teachings and other psycho social approaches. He identifies his primary teachings as having been offered by individuals experiencing alternative realities, including time living in a residential housing community during his own lived experience.

Matt’s latest projects include: The Community Listening Project – a partnership project with the local children’s centre and community to focus on strengthening human connection and the potential for communities to support each other through distress; and Voices, Visions and Other Realities: Psychosis 365, a project that will provide alternative understanding of the many ways individuals make sense of, understand and finding meaning in their personal realities and will be launched by the Humane Clinic in March 2018 (www.humaneclinic.com.au/psychosis365).