S11: Storytelling and Emotional Labour: Reconciling hope and resilience with a broken system.

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By September 4, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Terri Warner

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Storytelling and Emotional Labour: Reconciling hope and resilience with a broken system.

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Terri Warner is a mental health educator and advocate. She uses lived experience to bring about positive change in health services and improve community understanding about mental illness through community education, the delivery of peer-facilitated programs and systemic advocacy. She is the Chair of the ACT Mental Health Consumer Network.

Personal stories serve a number of purposes in mental health. They are used to address stigma, to promote help-seeking, to promote services and programs, and to advocate for systemic change. Messages about hope and resilience are central to these purposes. However, sharing personal stories usually means managing conflicting emotions about the message, its purpose and the contradiction presented by the notion of encouraging people to engage with a system you are fighting to change. This presentation will explore this contradiction and draw on the expertise of lived experience storytellers and advocates to develop an understanding of the complex relationship between for-purpose personal stories and the lived experience that underpins them. Advocates, storytellers and people who work for services and programs that engage lived experience storytellers and/or use personal stories for promotional or other purposes are encouraged to attend.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: Attendees will gain a better understanding of the role of emotional labour in storytelling and will learn ways of acknowledging its presence and supporting storytellers to manage its complexities.

Learning Objective 2: Mental health services that use personal stories and develop a better understanding of the relationship between a person, their story and their lived experience can not only support those storytellers effectively but also maximise the impact of their stories.


Nurser, Kate P., Imogen Rushworth, Tom Shakespeare, and Deirdre Williams. 2018. Personal storytelling in mental health recovery. The Mental Health Review 23 (1): 25.

Wharton, Amy S. 2009. The sociology of emotional labor. Annual Review of Sociology 35 (1): 147-65.

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