Guest editorial

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 16 September 2013



Basset, T. (2013), "Guest editorial", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 8 No. 3.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Guest editorial

Article Type: Guest editorial From: The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Volume 8, Issue 3.

Thurstine Basset

This special edition covers the topics of recovery, service user leadership and peer support.

Applying the principles of a recovery approach to practice is examined through both an evaluation of alternatives to psychiatric hospital admission and key steps towards establishing it more prominently in the education of psychiatrists. Service User Leadership is explored through a training programme that seeks to enhance the expertise of service users and through the impact of a Lived Experience Advisory Panel. Peer support is an example of service users taking the lead and the two papers on peer support give a broad overview of the position reached in the UK, followed by a personal account of the experience of working as a peer support worker.

These important topics are current and require good collaboration across the statutory and voluntary sector, between educators and practitioners and not least between those who provide and use mental health services. Authors of the papers reflect this diversity of involvement.

In the first paper, John Larsen and Chris Griffiths, both from Rethink Mental Illness, evaluate the impact of admission to a crisis house in terms of recovery and the specific achievements of service users in relation to personal goals. This is done through considering the ten life domains of the Recovery Star. Their findings are encouraging, particularly as this area of work, providing an alternative to psychiatric hospital admission, has been much neglected in the past.

Following from this, Hans Oh and colleagues put forward eight key steps that need to be taken for recovery to become a more prominent theme in learning programmes for doctors. Referring to a wide range of international literature, they relate their findings to the training of psychiatrists in the USA. Although often seen as the leaders of teams, one of their key steps is that psychiatrists can use clinical supervision as a time to practice relinquishing power. This will enable them to work as facilitators, involving their patients more in making decisions about their care.

Service User Leadership is a relatively new term and Angela Newton and colleagues from Together and Middlesex University explain this concept and reflect on how an accredited training programme is enabling service users to take on leadership roles, both in relation to their personal lives and more generally in having a voice and influence on mental health service provision.

Ben Gray, from Rethink Mental Illness, and colleagues report on service user and carer involvement in the PRIMROSE project, which is a large-scale study of primary care intervention for people with mental health problems at risk of cardiovascular disease. This paper presents a case study of the impact of a Lived Experience Advisory Panel on the project. The importance of lived experience in leading the way to new understandings underpins this paper.

Peer support is a practical example of service user leadership and its contemporary position within the UK's mental health policy and practice is reviewed by Simon Lawton-Smith of the Mental Health Foundation. After looking across the four countries in the UK, Simon summarises both the benefits and challenges of peer support. In the conclusion, there is a wish list of eight recommendations that will consolidate on the benefits gained to date and would ensure a robust future for peer support.

Finally, Emma Watson reflects on her work as a peer support worker. She writes from the heart and presents her four truths, which include the role of love in the work and the potential for the job to save lives, including the life of the peer support worker herself.

In addition to highlighting collaboration between the statutory and voluntary sectors, this collection of papers illustrates the innovative work that continues to be carried out in the mental health voluntary sector. The vibrancy of the mental health voluntary sector in the UK is a great strength that needs to be both acknowledged and supported.

Related articles