Promoting recovery-oriented mental health nursing practice through consumer participation in mental health nursing education
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Background: Developing recovery-oriented services, and ensuring genuine consumer participation in all aspects of services are central components of contemporary Australian mental health policy. However, attitudes of mental health professionals present a significant barrier. Given the positive impact of education on health professionals’ attitudes, particularly when consumers are involved, further exploration of consumer involvement in education is required. Aims: To enhance understanding of the role consumers can play within mental health nursing education. Method: A qualitative exploratory project was undertaken involving individual interviews with mental health nurse academics and consumer educators. Results: Two main themes emerged from nurse participants: Recovery in action, consumer educators were able to demonstrate and describe their own recovery journey; and not representative, some participants believed consumer educators did not necessary reflect views and opinions of consumers more broadly. Two main themes for consumers were: the truth about recovery, consumer educators demonstrated recovery as an achievable goal; and not a real consumer, where health professionals to dismiss the consumer experience as unrepresentative and therefore not credible. Conclusions: Consumer participation can contribute positively to nurse education, however representativeness presents a major barrier, potentially enabling nurses to dismiss experiences of consumer academics and educators as exceptional rather than typical.
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