Working with people who have been there: the meaningful involvement of mental health service users in curriculum design and delivery
The notion of mental health service user involvement in curriculum design and delivery has become commonplace over recent years. However, concern has been expressed that the rhetoric has not matched the reality. In particular, service user involvement has tended towards either tokenism or over-sensitivity to the point of near inertia. By contrast, this paper describes a project that took a pragmatic approach and was designed to make involvement in curriculum planning, design and delivery meaningful and worthwhile for service users, students and educators alike. The paper has two principal objectives. In the first instance, it outlines the strategy for involvement that was used to inform curriculum design and delivery at the Abertay University. This was grounded in the academic literature. Second, it provides an evaluation of this strategy based on practical experience and identifies some of the difficulties that must be overcome to work in a collaborative manner. In so doing, it examines some of the common concerns of educational staff, service users and students in relation to service user involvement. In conclusion, we provide recommendations for educators seeking to involve mental health service users in a meaningful manner in both the design of training programmes for mental health workers, and in their delivery.