The purpose of this paper is to explore what helped seven people in contact with secondary mental health services achieve their vocational goals, such as: employment, education, training and volunteering.
The authors used the practice of co-operative inquiry – staff and peer supporters co-designed an evaluation of vocational and peer support work with service users.
Service users experienced invalidating living conditions that caused serious distress. These life struggles included: isolation, trauma events and stigma. The impact involved distressing emotions such as: despair, fear, pain and confusion. In contrast, when service users experienced supportive validating conditions (trusting relationships, engaging in valued activity and peer support) they reported being able to learn, change and grow – finding their own way forward, to improve well-being and quality of life.
Qualitative analysis from in-depth interviews revealed a range of consistent themes that enabled the authors to visually represent these and “begin” developing a model of change – grounded in lived experience. Further research is required to develop this model.
The development of a model of change grounded in an invalidation/validation framework offers a different approach – in terms of how people are perceived and treated. This has relevance for Government policy development, clinical commissioning groups and practitioners.
The authors thank the people who voted with their feet and courageously undertook these profound journeys, telling the authors what it was like. The co-operative inquiry group and peer supporters: Shaun Williams, Manju Rajput, Lucas Teague, Rob Harrison, Kate Reaney, Ed McFadden and Kevin Poulton. Graphic design (Trees) Sophie Walker. For helpful guidance during the write up: Thurstine Basset.
Bertram, M. and McDonald, S. (2015), "From surviving to thriving: how does that happen", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 10 No. 5, pp. 337-348. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMHTEP-06-2015-0027
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