Mental Health Workers with Lived Experience of mental illness (MHWLE) are a growing workforce in countries veering to recovery orientation in mental health services. MHWLE entrance into the workforce challenges conventional role-definitions and practices in mental health services. This case study portrays issues raised by social work students following a workshop with MHWLE as part of their graduate-level training. A workshop with MHWLE was designed for 24 social work graduate students during a mental health seminar. Following the workshop, a focus group was held. The students’ thoughts and experiences during the workshop were collected and analyzed. Thematic analysis of the topics raised by the students included three main categories: (i) Experience of confusion about MHWLE role, (ii) Controversies regarding MHWLE disclosure of lived experience, and (iii) Concerns about boundary setting by MHWLE. Connecting MHWLE with social work students in academic settings can help better prepare social workers for the encounter with peer services in the mental health field, and support harmonization of this new yet rapidly growing workforce in mental health. In addition, the students had an opportunity to self-reflect and explore their own views and experiences regarding fundamental aspects of professional identity and their own practices in general.
- Peer support workers
- mental health service and education
- social work training