Doing It Like It Says On The Tin.

On the 18th May I  attended the Irish Institute of Mental Health Nursing Conference 2018 in association with The Commune Project in D.C.U. The theme of the conference was  Informing mental health nursing practise, education and research through co-production’.

John Kelly the Coordinator of Recovery College Dublin North, North East  asked if I would co- facilitate a presentation with him at the conference entitled  ‘Doing coproduction like it says on the tin’.

I have been a student of Recovery College for about the last year and a half, during that time time I have experienced and  become familiar with the Recovery College co-production approach to course and college development. In Recovery College people with lived experience work with professionals to co-design, co-deliver and co-evaluate all aspects of the college.

This was my first introduction to the IIMHN and the Commune Project and I had no idea what a huge impact this conference would have on me. It was an educational, uplifting experience for me.  It felt like a new a door opened and I stepped into a bigger arena with the emphasis  ‘on nursing practise, education, research co-produced with people with lived experience and professionals’.

  • Commune delegates  from Iceland and Finland presented  on ‘embedding experts by experience teaching into undergraduate nursing programmes’
  • UCC and DCU  -‘What service users can contribute to mental health teaching and undergraduate programmes’.  
  • Members by Experience  – ‘Experts by experience teaching on undergraduate programmes’
  • Norway and the Netherlands – ‘Best practise guidelines for co-producing course content and teaching on undergraduate nursing programmes’.
  • International findings Australia – Impact of experts by experience teaching into undergraduate  nursing programmes.

The people I  listened were passionate about providing inclusive, compassionate mental health care that  is person centred. Many of the delegates were living truth that there is more to people in distress than a bundle of symptoms and/ or a horror story to told. These presentations were not about ideals and goals to be reached, they are actually happening on the ground right now.

From a service users perspective my overall experiences  of the Mental Health Services has been a pretty poor one and  some of my experiences have bordered on the archaic. I really  could go on….and on …… but NO, it has all been said before. Instead  I want to focus my attention on building on what I have learned in Recovery College  and what I heard and experienced at this conference. I also want to put my energies into educating myself and involving  myself in this process..

In the true spirit of co-production I was educated about something new  that is happening right now in the Mental Health arena. I came away from the conference  feeling uplifted, refreshed and excited and with a hope and a belief that real change is  possible in mental health services. I also knew that I very much wanted to be part of that change.

Marian Reilly