S14: The Complexity of Lived Experience: Exploring Consumer/Carer Differences, Alliances and Tensions

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By September 17, 2018 No Comments

Authors: Indigo Daya, Vrinda Edan, Lorna Downes, Rachel Lovelock

Year: 2018

Event: 2018 TheMHS Conference


Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

Abstract: “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” (Lorde (1994)) From the 1960s on, Audre Lorde brought the attention of feminists to the reality of intersectionality. She reminded the world that the experience of a black woman is not the same as that of a white woman, nor of a black man. Difference and struggle often sits in the intersection of difference. In mental health, one such intersection is that of consumer and carers, meeting in the space of ‘lived experience’. Consumers and carers are increasingly put together on committees. Sometimes, unfortunately, we are even considered interchangeable. Sometimes we are expected to speak for each other, or we are expected to reach a consensus. While each of us has a lived experience, naturally our lived experiences can differ significantly – which means what we want can be very different too. And to complicate matters more, many of us have both types of lived experience. What does this mean for the integrity and effectiveness of our advocacy efforts? This workshop is for consumers and carers, and it will explore the ways that consumers and carers tend be in a natural alliance, and the common kinds of tensions that can arise when consumers and carers come together. What are these different opportunities and challenges, and how can we work with them in ways that lead to less confusion, more ethical practice, and better outcomes for all of us? During this workshop we will work collaboratively to find mutually respectful understandings of difference, and generate ideas for improved ways of working. This workshop will not always be a comfortable space, however we are committed to creating a respectful place. We will encourage conversations which are often avoided or only hinted at. The workshop is designed and facilitated by two consumers and two carers with a long history of working collaboratively. Workshop outline: Setting the scene - 10m • Introduction • Historical differences, alliances and tensions • Strategies for mutual respect Interactive workshop – 45 min • Key areas of alliance (e.g., respect, inclusion and helpful services) • Key areas of tension (e.g., power, who speaks for whom, safety vs freedom, trauma vs family blaming) • Ethical dilemmas (e.g., wearing both hats, conflicting needs) • Strategies for changing how we work: recognising difference, accepting difference…celebrating difference? Debrief and close – 5 min

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