The power of people with lived experience working together

The power of people with lived experience working together has been highlighted by the NSW Mental Health Commission.

As part of the Commission's mid-term review of Living Well: A Strategic Plan for Mental Health in NSW 2014-2024, a new video has been produced, which features people with lived experience of suicide in the Illawarra Shoalhaven.

In the video, members of the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative working group talk about their plans to implement the Safe Space initiative: a peer-led, peer-supported respite for people experiencing distress associated with suicidality. It offers an alternative to hospital and other clinical services.

"The Safe Space concept has been born out of the voices of people with lived experience in the Illawarra Shoalhaven," said Dr Alex Hains, Regional Manager of the Collaborative.

"For a long time they've been telling us that the services available are good, but they aren't meeting all of their needs. We wanted to work together to find a non-clinical alternative - something that's led and run by people with their own lived experience."

While Safe Space is still in its planning stages, working group members say it will offer a non-judgmental environment for people to form meaningful connections with one another, identify individual needs and determine how to best meet those needs. 

"The warmth of connection you feel with peer support - this is the embodiment of what people want in suicide prevention. We know there's a genuine appetite for peer-led, peer-supported initiatives like Safe Space, " said Carrie, Safe Space working group member. 

"People with experience of suicidality need to be involved in determining how an alternative to clinical services will look and feel, and how it will work to bring down the incidence of suicide in this region," said Bruce, another working group member.

You can watch the video here