Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce

 Companion document to the Queensland Framework for the Development of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce. Designed to support the development of lived experience roles that are meaningful, authentic and reflect lived experience values.  

Roennfeldt, H., Byrne, L., Wang, Y., Chapman, M., Darwin, L. Role Titles and Descriptions for the Development
of the Mental Health Lived Experience Workforce. 2019, Queensland Government: Brisbane.

  • Lived Experience workers apply an understanding of marginalisation, loss of identity and citizenship in their work to benefit others and contribute to system change

  • Position descriptions can help to ensure role clarity and uniqueness of Lived Experience roles

  • Lived Experience roles span across direct support to specialist and leadership positions

  • Common principles of Lived Experience work include the capacity to covey hope, a personal identification with mental health experience and willingness to share experience

  • Position descriptions include values, skills and theories underpinning Lived Experience work. These are described as personal qualities and core competencies for the role. 

Take home messages
Developing and Maintaining the Uniqueness of Lived Experience Roles

This document assists in writing position descriptions that ensure the clarity and the uniqueness of lived experience roles are upheld. Position Descriptions are important as they can support the uniqueness of Lived Experience roles by reflecting the distinction between Lived Experience work vs. the work of non-designated roles. 

Lived Experience work is about how experiences of marginalisation, loss of identity and citizenship are understood and applied to benefit others and contribute to system change. These roles exist across direct support and entry-level positions to specialist roles and leadership positions.


Lived Experience workers identified the following principles that were common across all these roles: 

  • Capacity to convey hope

 

  • Personal identification with experiences of a mental health challenge

 

  • Willingness to share experiences

Lived Experience roles include advocacy and identification as a change agent – that is, having the ability to challenge harmful practices and contribute more effective mental health service delivery. 

Values, Skills and Theory

Position descriptions list key criteria, core competencies and adherence to frameworks of practice. Position descriptions can also be broken down into into values, skills and underpinning theories in Lived Experience Work.  

Values

Organisational values are reflected in an organisations mission statement and the position descriptions of employees should reflect the value of Lived Experience work. 

Below are the values underpinning Lived Experience practice. 

Non-Judgemental

Capacity to be Vulnerable

Respect

Dignity of

Risk

Empathy

Openness

Human

Rights

Authenticity and Personal Investment 

Social Justice

Skills

Lived Experience work requires diverse skills across a variety of areas and roles. These roles include direct work and indirect work. Importantly, the processes of Lived Experience work are emphasised as “not so much what you do, but how you do it’.  

Direct
Work

Individual support and facilitating groups, sharing experiences, advocacy, connecting to resources, community building, relationship building, mentoring, building social connections, creative and strengths-based activities.

Indirect
Work

Planning and developing programs, administration, staff training, communication, supervision, peer training, promotion, research and evaluation

Skills associated with Lived Experience work: 

Working with Groups

Coaching or Mentoring

Communication Skills

Purposeful Use of Experience

Working

Collaborativelly

Strategies to Overcome Adversity

Think Radically but Act Diplomatically

Linking to Community

Appreciating Other's World Views

Theories 

Lived experience workers have identified working from the following theories and approaches:

  • recovery framework

  • psychosocial approach

  • trauma-informed framework

  • humanistic approach

  • strengths-based framework

  • holistic approach​​​

Training recommended by Lived Experience Workers include Intentional Peer Support, Trauma Informed practice and Hearing Voices training. Connection to the wider community and Lived Experience networks are also important to ensure sustainability of the workforce. 

Personal Qualities and Core Competencies 

Core competencies and personal qualities reflect values, skills and underpinning theories. 

 

Core competencies are described in clear statements and reflect what is fundamental to effective Lived Experience work.

 

Use the box below to see some of the personal qualities and core competencies of Lived Experience work in the words of Lived Experience workers.

“Someone who can weigh up a situation and think critically. We want people who have a good understanding of personal recovery and the consumer movement and to hold services accountable. Someone who can identify undertones and not just say ‘yes’ to things. To stand strong in a clinical environment. Also, diplomacy to know when to stand up and where to hold back and slowly chip away. You have to have fortitude and patience. Change can take a long time so you can’t make a revolution quickly. It is small wins. It is about the individual work and the difference you make and contributions to individuals. Think radically but can act diplomatically when needed. Be strategic and be willing to stay for the long haul and do the hard slog.”

Shared Skills and Specialisations

There is overlap between Direct Support and Indirect Support Roles, where both may require some direct support and management skills.

Specialisations can occur in both direct and indirect support roles and may include working from the perspectives of:

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

People from the Deaf Community

People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds

People Identifying as LGBTQIA+

Perinatal Mental Health

People with Experiences of Family Violence

Suicide

Involuntary Treatment

People from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds

Eating Disorders

Child and Youth (or Carer Youth and Families)

Incarceration 

People with Experience of Drug & Alcohol Use or Dependence

Homelessness

People Identifying as Neurodivergent

People with a Disability

Veterans

Other Diverse Experiences

Direct Support Example Role Titles and Position Description

Peer Worker (also Consumer Peer Worker etc...)

Family and Carer Peer Support Worker

Peer Mentor (and Recovery Mentor)

Consumer Rehabilitation Support Worker

Wellbeing (and Lived Expertise) Coach

Peer Artist

Lifestyle Facilitator

Lived Expertise Group Facilitator

Recovery Worker (and Assistant)

Lifestyle Facilitator

  1. Provide recovery-orientated, ‘consumer’ and/or ‘carer’ focused peer support 

  2. Advocate for consumers 

  3. Support consumers to make positive changes towards recovery by identifying strengths 

  4. Serve as a positive role model 

  5. Well-developed communication, both verbal and written, to work collaboratively across multidisciplinary teams 

  6. Provide feedback and advice to multidisciplinary team members regarding consumer and/or carer participation

  7. Provide education and guidance on recovery-oriented practice. 

  8. Work within appropriate boundaries and draw on knowledge and expertise gained through reflection on own lived experience. 

Core 
Competencies

Core 
Attributes

  1. Communication skills

  2. Willingness and purposeful use of lived experience

  3. Awareness of boundaries 

  4. Teamwork 

  5. Problem solving 

  6. Work autonomously 

  7. Use of initiative, tact and discretion 

  1. Certificate IV in Mental Health or Mental Health Peer Work (Desirable)

Qualifications

Indirect Support Role: Example Role Titles and Position Description

Director (and Manager)

Peer Support Supervisors (and Coordinators)

Carer (and Consumer) Consultant

Carer (and Consumer) Coordinator

Team Leader

Service Manager

Consumer Participation Coordinator

Lived Experience (Consumer) Academic

  1. Advocacy and development of the Lived Experience workforce

  2. Supervision and mentoring

  3. Business development

  4. Education, training and research

  5. Expert advice on policy, planning, evaluation, process
    and strategic direction

  6. Lived experience perspective to support decision making

  7. Advocacy

Key 
duties

Core 
Attributes

  1. Communication skills

  2. Negotiation skills

  3. Ability to influence

  4. Ability to establish strategic partnerships

  5. Knowledge of recovery and service systems

  6. Knowledge of legislation

  7. Skills in training, education and research

  1. Ranges from Certificate IV to postgraduate qualifications

  2. Relevant previous experience

Qualifications

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