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Risky business: Lived experience mental health practice, nurses as potential allies
Mental health policy includes a clear expectation that consumers will participate in all aspects of the design and delivery of mental health services. This edict has led to employment roles for people with lived experience of significant mental health challenges and service use. Despite the proliferation of these roles, research into factors impacting their success or otherwise is limited. This paper presents findings from a grounded theory study investigating the experiences of Lived Experience Practitioners in the context of their employment. In-depth interviews were conducted with 13 Lived Experience Practitioners. Risk was identified as a core category, and included sub-categories: vulnerability, ‘out and proud’, fear to disclose, and selfcare. Essentially participants described the unique vulnerabilities of their mental health challenges being known, and while there were many positives about disclosing there was also apprehension about personal information being so publically known. Self-care techniques were important mediators against these identified risks. The success of lived experience roles requires support and nurses can play an important role, given the size of the nursing workforce in mental health, the close relationships nurses enjoy with consumers and the contribution they have made to the development of lived experience roles within academia.