Authors: Trevor Dowson, NSW
Event: 2003 TheMHS Conference
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Abstract: At a group level the CEO-MHS project has sought to empower persons with a serious mental illness, by giving them a voice in terms of what questions about services are asked. At an individual level, an equally important intention has been to personally empower the consumer researchers associated with the project through their participation in paid employment, skill development and the social and professional networks offered. These experiences however, may not always be positive. For instance participation may involve increased exposure to different fears, differing opinions and viewpoints and stigma. This paper aims to explore the personal impact of the project on consumer researchers through presenting their reflections on aspects of self-esteem, power/powerlessness, optimism/control over life and the effect of stigma in relation to the project. These aspects represent several of the underlying dimensions of the concept of personal empowerment as developed by consumer researchers in a previous study (Rogers et al 1997). A consumer researcher gives their account of their involvement in the project, and elaborates on its personal impact in relation to the aforementioned aspects of empowerment.