Authors: Flick Grey and Merinda Epstein, VIC.
Event: 2011 TheMHS Conference
Subject: CONSUMERS, SERVICE-USER, LEADERSHIP, MANAGEMENT
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: In some ways, we are witnessing a profound cultural shift towards positively valuing mental health consumers. For example, The Mental Health Services Conference itself includes a consumer keynote address, many mental health services employ consumer consultants, and there are many high-profile “anti-stigma” campaigns. But many of us know there are shadows lurking: silences, discomforts, tokenism, paternalism, coercion and disrespect. I know this in my body. So, for example, when I sit on other people’s committees as a “consumer representative,” despite the often sincere efforts to listen and include me, something feels amiss. Even delivering a paper like this – as an “out” consumer – this feeling is there and I’m unwilling to believe that this is just “self-stigma.” This paper brings some of these tensions to the fore, introduces conceptual language to help navigate our way through them, and proposes some ways forward, beyond what I call “benevolent othering” relationships.