This article has been written by Rachel Temple (Public Involvement in Research Manager at the McPin Foundation). It begins:
“When I first discovered the ‘Trainee Researcher’ job vacancy at McPin back in 2017, I was immediately attracted. I’d been on the hunt for an opening into mental health research for what felt like forever. But what really captivated me about this role was the lived experience aspect: the opportunity to draw from my personal experiences of mental health issues to shape and improve research quality. For a long time, my mental health issues had been a major barrier for me. Not only has McPin enabled me to overcome these barriers, but I’ve felt valued in the process – like my experience adds to a greater cause. This got me thinking about how we often discuss why lived experience improves research quality, but what about the how? So, I wanted to reflect on ways I have used my lived experience – often without realising – and how this may have improved the work I have carried out.
Facilitating young people’s involvement: beginning the conversation
My main role at McPin is to facilitate young people’s involvement in mental health research. I’ve found that my lived experience as a young person with mental health issues has come in handy here (although, I am very quickly leaving that age bracket!). In many ways, I act as the ‘go-to’ between researchers and young people; leading and tailoring the involvement activities to ensure they are appropriate, accessible and meaningful. My lived experience has informed my understanding of these things. In some cases, it makes me better placed to know what to ask, how to ask it – and how not to ask it. I can use this inside knowledge to assist any judgement calls for determining what’s triggering, distressing, or simply unappealing. My lived experience can help to steer the involvement process before the conversation has even begun …”
You can read more from here.