Book of Proceedings: The Currency of Suffering

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By April 15, 2020 No Comments

Authors: Caroline Lambert, Brittany McVeagh

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: book of proceedings

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers

ISBN: 9780994570260

Abstract: Paper from the 2019 TheMHS Conference by Caroline Lambert and Brittany McVeagh. Published as part of the 2019 Book of Proceedings.


Brittany McVeagh is a conscientious, discerning and tenacious Consumer Consultant at Forensicare. Brittany now uses her own lived experience of mental illness to help consumers turn their experience into power and motivation. She is studying a Bachelor of Criminology with a view to transferring into social work. Brittany loves the outdoors.

Dr Caroline Lambert cares for a child with a mental illness. In her spare time, she is also the Social Work and Lived Experience Clinical Educator at Forensicare, and an Industry Fellow at RMIT. Caroline holds a PhD in social work, and is passionate about inclusivity, anti-oppressive practices and kindness.

Both presenters are in jobs where they are expected to use their own mental health lived experiences as a resource to assist others by connecting, supporting, empathising, mentoring or making evident the possibilities of recovery. In the scope of these roles, we have noted that amongst some lived experience workers, and indeed humans in general, there is a currency of sorts found in the amount that one is perceived to have suffered. This presentation aims to start a conversation about Lived Experience identities, the hierarchy of suffering, and ‘currency’ sometimes attached to trauma or distress. The presentation will further explore the idea that lived experience workers (LEW) could be at risk of lateral violence from other LEW, based on their perceived lack, or depth of suffering. De-identified case studies will be used to illustrate the concepts, and theories of oppression and lateral violence will be explored.

Learning Objectives

Learning Objective 1: People in the audience will gain an insight into some of the challenges that can occur within a mental health lived experience workforce, as well as how theories of internalised oppression, lateral violence and microaggression might go some way to explaining these particular challenges.

Learning Objective 2: This issue is relevant to mental health (MH) services and mental health as a broad topic. As MH services are, increasingly employing lived experience workers, it is important that employers, other employees, and allies of lived experience workers are aware of these potentially adverse and complex dynamics.


Mullaly, B. (2010) Challenging Oppression and Confronting Privilege, Canada, Oxford

Sue, D.W., Capodilupo, C.M., Nadal, K.L., Rivera, D.D., & Torino, G.G.(2018) Microaggressions theory: Influence & Implications, United States, Wiley

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