About Lived Experience Workforce
What is a mental health lived experience worker?
A lived experience worker is “a person who is employed in a role that requires them to identify as being, or having been a mental health consumer or carer. Peer work requires that lived experience of mental illness is an essential criterion of job descriptions, although job titles and related tasks vary.”
The lived experience workforce therefore consists of people who are employed for their specific skill set, which includes their experience and knowledge of mental health issues and recovery. Lived experience workers draw from this purposefully – for example, to support recovery in other people.
Lived experience workers may be employed by Government or Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), within roles specific to experience as a consumer or carer. Whilst a lived experience of mental health issues and recovery is the common essential criterion, other criteria, the actual position description, work-related tasks and workplace experiences can vary greatly. For example, lived experience workers may:
- Work in psychosocial rehabilitation (non-clinical) or within clinical mental health services.
- Perform a one to one support role, helping facilitate recovery in others.
- Develop and deliver training.
- Run groups and programs.
- Share their story for the purposes of community education.
- Work in project or policy development, consultancy, leadership or advocacy roles.
How do I become a lived experience worker?
Lived experience workers need to have a good understanding of their own mental health such as triggers, early warning signs, recovery strategies and be living well (managing their wellbeing). This does not mean that lived experience workers never become unwell! It simply means they understand the things that help them to recover and are actively participating in their ongoing recovery journey.
Most roles require employees to have or be working towards a nationally recognised qualification. There are people in lived experience roles with a range of qualifications, from Certificate IV in Mental Health to a Degree in Social Work or Psychology and higher. At present, the accepted benchmark is the Certificate IV in Mental Health. LEWP is actively advocating for the lived experience-focussed Certificate IV in Mental Health Peer Work to be added to the subsidised training list, which would make it more accessible for people in lived experience roles.