Triumph and adversity: Exploring the complexities of consumer storytelling in mental health nursing education: Storytelling in Nursing Education

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Abstract

Consumer participation in the education of health professionals is increasing, particularly in mental health nursing education and storytelling remains the most frequent approach to consumer involvement. The use of story has tended to be accepted as a legitimate educational tool with limited critique or consideration of its potential consequences presented within the academic literature. A qualitative exploratory research study was undertaken with mental health nurse academics (n = 34) and consumer educators and academics (n = 12), to investigate the perceptions and experiences of mental health nurses and consumers regarding the involvement of consumers in mental health nursing education. Data were analysed thematically. Story was a major theme to emerge from consumer participants and received some attention from nurse academics. Consumers and nurses both referred to the power of story to convey the human experience of mental illness diagnosis and service use; and the vulnerability that can result from storytelling. Consumers also described: story as expectation; preparation and support; and the politics of story. All participants supported the value of storytelling in mental health nursing education. Consumers had considered the complexities in far greater detail. The ongoing value of story as an educational technique requires further research. Equally important is considering a broader range of educational roles for mental health consumers.

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