The service user perspective what we bring by our experience to teaching.
Teaching on Mental Health courses requires that we focus on the affective as well as the cognitive domain of learning. In their professional lives, the students that we teach will have to encounter people who are living in extreme emotional situations. The curriculum needs to be informed by the experience of people who use the services that we give. Service users help students – and their lecturers – to develop a more informed perspective on the lived experience of their clients, helping to answer questions such as “What is it really like to be a person experiencing a mental breakdown?” and to understand the vulnerability, powerlessness, and loss of self-esteem that service users know as part of their daily lives.
Service users working with students are faced with the task of talking about deeply personal matters – the raw experience of mental illness –, which can describe as “a personal holocaust that can cause you to lose your sense of taste and the capacity to take comfort from another human being. Recognition needs to be given to the emotional labour they undertake in providing this gift to students.