I have lifelong experience of extreme mental distress, having accessed many different kinds of ‘help’ along the way (a.k.a. surviving the mental health system). I now work with a range of organisations who value lived experience input into projects related to mental health, abuse, suicide and complex trauma.
At the age of 28, through my own research and synthesis of trauma & mental health evidence, I discovered that childhood sexual abuse & complex trauma were at the root of my struggles. Its misdiagnosis was a re-traumatisation which caused me an immense amount of extra harm, but I finally had the knowledge & tools I needed to move forward.
After taking control of my own healing journey, I am now ready to use my voice to make sure nobody else suffers unecessarily like I did. Trauma-informed services designed by those with lived experience are still missing in our society today, and it’s time to change it. Through my work with Eyes On Trauma, I am proud to be involved with the following projects, researchers and organisations:
VAMHN Lived Experience Advisory Group
The Lived Experience Advisory Group (LEAG) was set up in 2020 at the Violence and Abuse Mental Health Network (VAMHN), a UK Research Network hosted by the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King’s College London. I was offered a place within the LEAG and am proud to be part of it. My role here includes input into lived experience focus groups and research-related opportunities. I’ve worked on projects including developing lived experience research benchmarks and evaluating grant funding applications.
Samaritans Lived Experience Advisory Group
I joined the Samaritans Lived Experience Advisory Group in September 2021. The Samaritans are undertaking work on their 5 year strategy, and are keen to engage people with lived experience of suicide to help develop this. It’s great that organisations are valuing lived experience input like this, I’m excited at the opportunity to help make things even better for my peers, particularly from a trauma-informed perspective, for such a highly regarded and valued third sector organisation.
City, University of London
I’m working with City, University of London as a lived experience consultant, on a 5-year project, the ASsuRED study. Researchers are developing and testing new interventions to better help people who present at hospital Emergency Departments in suicidal or mental health crisis. In October 2021, I travelled to London to present five short videos about complex trauma, trauma informed care and emotional flashbacks. The videos will be part of the training material for practitioners in Emergency Departments involved in the study. You can watch a short clip on the blog post here.
Intentional Peer Support
Peer support is a promising lived experience model to support people struggling with complex trauma and other mental health difficulties. I am particularly keen to promote peer support models, as they have worked so well for me and others, and strong evidence begins to back this in current research. I am an internationally certified Intentional Peer Support worker, and a member of peer support groups. I have the following peer support certifications and experience:
- January 2022 – Adult Safeguarding
- December 2021 – Talk for Health Train the Chair
- June 2020 – Talk for Health peer support programme
- October 2020 – Intentional Peer Support training course
- July 2021 – 8-Week REMIT Experts By Experience pilot programme (see below)
- Member of Talk for Health intentional peer support group
- Member of Co-Reflection Group for peer support workers
I am very keen to help advise on peer support, set up new peer support programmes, input into peer support research, etc.
Home-Start East Sussex
I worked with Home-Start East Sussex (HSES) since January 2021, through a research placement with the University of Brighton. We collaborated and worked reflexively on a research proposal for a new peer support service, aimed at women who complete HSES’s domestic violence programme. HSES found my lived experience insights invaluable and cruicial in helping gain funding to set up their peer support programme.
REMIT Experts By Experience
I took part in the pilot REMIT Experts By Experience programme, run by Healing Justice LDN over the course of 5 months from March – July 2021. Aimed at people with lived experience of medical and institutional trauma, the programme explored related themes during 8 sessions. It became a safe space for us to connect with our peers, and explore our own experiences of harm & healthcare. Compassionately validating and sharing our experiences is an important part of healing & moving forward with life. Lived experience & peer support programmes like these are a great way to support us.
Institute of Denistry – Research
In my recent blog post I wrote about taking part in a pilot workshop as a lived experience expert, exploring dental healthcare in relation to mental health, particularly amongst young people. I discovered this research opportunity, hosted at the Institute of Dentistry at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London (yep, that was a mouthful) through another research network I joined. I’m looking forward to further involvement as the project progresses, and appreciate the researchers’ appreciation & value of lived experience input.
Are you looking to embed lived experience voices in your next project? I can add insights from my own experiences and/or co-ordinate wider lived experience research. I previously worked as a youth insight consultant, undertaking research using similar networks and strategies. I’m enjoying transferring these skills to my work with lived experience of complex trauma and am keen to bring my insight to further related projects. I have some current availability to contribute to new opportunities, and welcome contact from relevant individuals & organisations – you can contact me here.
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