Understanding Lived Experiences To Enhance Person-Centred Mental Health Nursing Practice

The importance of lived experiences in mental health nursing practice

There are a lot of people who suffer from the disorder related to mental ability and it is actually increasing amongst the population of today’s world. Presently across the world, there are approximately 400 million people who suffer from the mental disorders or any kind of psychological disorders (Waidman et al., 2012). They suffer beyond the limits as there is a lack of care present for such people and they also experience stress, shame and majorly death. It must be noted that the modality of care, attention in the mental health atmosphere which involves not just the assistance to the people who are in psychological distress but also with the established mental disorders (Leach et al., 2018). People’s personal experiences with their own mental health teach them a lot. At the same time, it also helps the people in nursing practice in learning the way to take care of people suffering from mental health.  The report demonstrates the lived experiences of mental disorders in nursing practice followed by the way to deal with stigma in mental health.

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The purpose of the report is to discuss about the experiences of the people who themselves have suffered with the mental health issue and how it can help the nursing practices. People deal with a lot of stigma when they are mentally challenges. There can be few ways in which people can deal with the stigma. The report helps in knowing the ways of dealing with the stigma as well.

There are a number of reasons which are founded as to why lived experiences in mental disorder were positive. The lived experiences can contribute in the experience of leadership and supervision as these can improve system design and enable the change and collaborative services that could lead to the increment in the quality of care and services which are given to the people who suffer from the mental illness. There are researches in which people have realized the by embracing the lived experiences, one can rise up the acceptance and decrease the stigma by the people suffering with mental disorder (Commission, 2017). The involvement of the people who comes from the culturally diverse backgrounds with lived experiences could also easily advice in the services to be more responsive. Majorly, there are new chances and opportunities which are newly emerged. These new opportunities have emerged from the usage of the people’s lived experiences (Jacob et al., 2014). The process is iterative and always need feedback loops as chances become embedded in the sector. People have also found out about the significance of the lived experiences within different roles and stages in the mental health practices. This actually extended the peer support roles converting into managerial system and decision making with influencing positions. The lived experiences can also involve a call for the extra peer support roles in certain areas of mental health system such as high dependency units etc. Some of the people with lived experiences also give suggestions for the programs which could be funded so that people like personal helpers or supporters must be employed (Sommerseth & Dysvik, 2008). The underpinning of the lived experiences workforce was the need to support access to apt & accredited training like scholarship for people with lived experience for accessing certificate in mental health peer work.  Few of the people also saw other people living with the mental health illness as untapped workforce.

Ways nurses can develop their skills to work collaboratively with patients

The knowledge of the lived experiences is wider than the experience of illness and it also encompasses the understanding of the discrimination, domination and marginalization. The foundation of the lived experience perspectives involve shared understanding of the changes in social status, job, relationships and the concepts of self as a result of diagnosis and service usage. Importantly, people who have their own living experiences have also had the periods of their healing irrespective of the challenging times they have faced and this is the reason they can provide advice on the strategies which can be used for recovery (Martensson, 2014). The roles played by the lived experiences people implants the opinions of people in the service delivery and also have displayed the improvement in the results for people who use the services in various ways. All these outcomes can also be measured in both clinical and recovery perspectives. The evidence base points out to the support given by the people with lived experiences can be efficient with respect of the reduction of symptoms and satisfaction in services given by the mental health professionals. There is research which advices that lived experiences can give few benefits which are not found in the traditional services. These living experienced people just do not have similar power imbalances which are typically found in the service user relations and they can very well challenge the present power dynamics for promoting the growth of the collaborative therapeutic relations. These people can empathize on behalf of the people who are currently not able to do so (Ebrahimi & Vahidi, 2012).

The people with lived experiences can contribute to the improvement in the sense of hope, empowerment and social involvement for such people who access these services. The social inclusion was incepted for including the personal relationships which are improved and contribute the positivity which fostered the emotions of belonging and decreased social isolation.  In addition to that, these experiences involve increased confidence of mental health illness people in public and also are helpful in boosting the self esteem in obtaining the jobs.

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The practice of nursing in mental health has been changed a lot of times since evolution involving the role and function of the mental health nurse. It is actually a tough specialization that needs particular knowledge, talent and also the experience in working with the people with mental disorders and other issues. As the mental health nurse, I had the chance to communicate with different groups of individuals from every different background experiencing wide range of mental illness and disorders (Ross, 2009). The mental illness types include psychosis, bi polar disorder and depression etc. I worked with multi disciplinary teams which included psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists. I have been a part of the planning and delivery for taking care of people who experienced mental disorders. The major tool for me being a mental health nurse was the strength of my own character and creating good connection skills. I had empathy for people I was engaged with and always felt the warmth and need to care about the people suffering from mental disorder. However, I regret to say that there is a lot of stigma which is attached with the mental illness or disorder. Fighting with it and advising the people and their families to deal with the nature of this type of illness was the major part of my role in this practice.

The impact of stigma and discrimination on people with mental health issues

There were many patients in my job tenure who actually described their experiences where mental health issues and depression included living with the lot of stigma. This can be taken as the different attitude that is shown towards the people who are suffering from the mental disorder as compared to any normal person (Heydari et al., 2017). This difference come when there is discrimination done with these people when it is linked with the mental disorder such as depression etc that frequently rises up the sense of not being taken seriously. At the time of depression, older people also suffer from the physical issues which displays as being the part of mental issues, health care giving people believe that physical health issues are not real. The fear and knowledge of being different can always add up to depressed elder people and their suffering. The other people behave if the older people are just imagining things and they feel that their physical health issue is not because of the depression but because of age.

People suffering with mental disorder say that the social stigma they feel is linked with their illness and also with the discrimination they experience. This has made their life difficult and worse and due to this many people have to fight real hard for recovering from it (Holm, 2014). Even when there are many people who suffer from depression or any other mental disorder, there is a very strong stigma which is linked with the mental ill health and the suffered can experience discrimination in all aspects of their own life. Most of the people’s condition worsen because of the stigma and discrimination caused by the society, family and friends for them. There are approximately 9 out of 10 people who suffer from mental disorders and 99% of them say that stigma creates more negativity in their lives (Corrigan, 2002).

In my nursing practice, I would help people fight this aspect in few ways.

  1. I will encourage equality and make the sufferers understand that they will have to be confident irrespective of the stigma they are facing socially.
  2. I would show my compassion to them to make them realize that not all people are bad in society and some of them actually know the pain of going through a mental illness.
  3. I would always advice and help them to choose empowerment over shame.
  4. I would always teach my patients to be honest and vocal about the illness and make them understand that there is no need to be ashamed of anything(Taghva & Noorbala, 2017).


This report focuses on the people who suffer from the mental disorder or illness. Being a practitioner, I have always felt the pain that these people feel. For helping the people who suffer from this illness, there are some of the benefits which the practitioners and the hospitals can gain by involving the people with lived experiences. People with lived experiences can really benefit the people who suffer from the mental disorders. In addition to that, my experience that I have had with my practice is discussed. In my experience, I have learnt that people with mental disorder suffer a lot because of the social stigma caused to them. I have some of the points mentioned in this report with which I can help my patients fight with stigma and depression. In the conclusion, it can be said that mental disorder can be easily cured and the sufferers can be easily taken care of if there would be no stigma given to such people.


Commission, Q.M.h., 2017. Promoting lived experience in Mental Health. [Online] Available at: https://www.qmhc.qld.gov.au/sites/default/files/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Summary_Promoting-Lived-Experience-in-Mental-Health-Forum.pdf [Accessed 24 September 2018].

Corrigan, P.W., 2002. Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness. Journal of World Psychiatric Association, 1(1), pp.16-20.

Ebrahimi, H. & Vahidi, M., 2012. Mental illness stigma among nurses in psychiatric wards of teaching hospitals in the north-west of Iran. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Miwifery Research, 17(7), pp.534–38.

Heydari, A., Saadatian, V. & Soodmand, P., 2017. Black Shadow of Stigma: Lived Experiences of Patients with Psychiatric Disorders on the Consequences of Stigma. Psychiatry Behavioral Science.

Holm, A.L., 2014. Living with Stigma: Depressed Elderly Persons’ Experiences. Nursing research and Practice, p.8.

Jacob, S., Munro, I. & Taylor, B.J., 2014. Mental health recovery: Lived experience of consumers, carers and nurses. Contemporary nurse: a journal for the Australian nursing profession , 50(1).

Leach, M.J. et al., 2018. The association between mental health nursing and hospital admissions for people with serious mental illness: a protocol for a systematic review. Systematic Reviews, 7(2).

Martensson, G., 2014. Mental health nursing staff’s attitudes towards mental illness: an analysis of related factors. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 21(9), pp.782–788.

Ross, C.A., 2009. Stigma, negative attitudes and discrimination towards mental illness within the nursing profession: a review of the literature. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 16, pp.558–67.

Sommerseth, R. & Dysvik, E., 2008. Health professionals’ experiences of person-centered collaboration in mental health care. Patient Preference and Adherence, 2, pp.259-69.

Taghva, A. & Noorbala, A.A., 2017. Strategies to reduce the stigma toward people with mental disorders in Iran: stakeholders’ perspectives. BMC Psychaitry, 17(17).

Waidman, M.A.P., Marcon, S.S., Pandini, A. & Bessa, J.B., 2012. Nursing care for people with mental disorders, and their families, in Primary Care. Acta Paulista de Enfermagem, 25(3).