New Zealand is well known for its struggles with suicide, especially amongst indigenous Māori and young people. I was privileged to be the first lived experience member on the Ministry of Health Suicide Prevention Task Force to help develop the first Suicide Prevention Strategy.
How do we best bring lived experience into university research? I was the first 'Consumer/Service User Researcher' at the University of Auckland and sat on the Medical and Health Sciences Faculty Advisory Committee where I provided strategic and operational guidance. I also helped established and keynoted the first Service Users Academic Symposium.
A big part of the change many of us want to see is a more inclusive society. By reducing the stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness, the potential for recovery and integration is enhanced. I was strategic advisor to the governments development of our national plan to work towards this.
We often sit in our Mental Health world and wonder why more people don't make use of our services. A lot of the time it's because people don't even know we exist!
I was Principal Investigator on this research with over 100 staff in community services about how they currently support people who may be experiencing anxiety or depression and how this can be improved.
"A shove in the right direction, that was enough, I think it was just the fact that someone believed in me more than anything else, just someone saying you can do it" Evaluation Participant.
I led an evaluation of the first attempt at implementing the 'Housing First' approach to homelessness. Included a review of utilisation stats and interviews with clients, staff and stakeholders in Mental Health Homeless Team, Alcohol and Other Drug Services, Corrections, Housing NZ and Work and Income.