My Story, Our Future: a storytelling project about living with psychosis

“There was not a single ‘typical’ story that emerged. Instead we found people navigating through their lives in a variety of ways. People talked about specific challenges, individual skills, abilities and strengths, and held different hopes and aspirations for the future. Through all the stories, we were able to identify 10 ‘themes’ or important recurring patterns.”

This research project comes from the McPin Foundation, who say:

What is this research?

This work was commissioned by the Office of London Clinical Commissioning Groups, the mental health support charity Certitude and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust to better understand the experiences of people who have psychosis.

Why is this work important?

Few in-depth qualitative studies have looked at the experiences of people with psychosis, particularly exploring the broader context of people’s lives and the situations that may have contributed to people needing to use services.

In clinical practice, people are constantly asked to tell their stories to psychiatric professionals. However, this is usually within the restrictions of a psychiatric assessment. They are rarely given the space to tell their story on their own terms.

With this in mind, My Story: Our Future adopted an approach that deliberately sought to look beyond people’s experiences as a ‘service user’ or ‘carer’. We set out to hear people’s life stories to see if they could help us identify and understand important events or experiences which have had an impact on their mental health.

How are McPin and people with lived experience of mental health problems involved in the project?

The McPin Foundation were commissioned to conduct an in-depth qualitative study exploring the experiences of people who have used Early Intervention in Psychosis services in south London and the experiences of their carers. A team of researchers with lived experience of psychosis or of using mental health services worked on this study, along with a coordinator from the McPin Foundation.

The team spoke to 9 people with personal experience of psychosis and 5 carers, working with each person so they were in control of the storytelling process, sometimes using visual resources like the Tree of Life. The team drew on techniques used in oral history, their own experiences of mental health and using services, and used creative methods and narrative analysis to help them understand what they heard …”

You can find out more – and listen to a podcast about story-telling – from here.

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