Examples of Irish Service
User Research and Issues
Emerging
Mike Watts M.Psych. Sc. PhD Student, School of Nursing and
Midwifery. National Program Coordinator GROW in Ireland.
Ex Service user
Exploring Recovery
From Mental Illness
Through the narratives of
members of GROW in Ireland
Who am I ?
 An ex service user





Medical family
Years of terrifying
levels of anxiety
Drug, alcohol abuse
and personal injury
Voices and strange
ideas
Diagnosed as
‘pathologically shy’
1969 and
prescribed Librium
Married to Fran
 We met in Kabul
1969
 Diagnosed
postpuerperal
depression, schizo
affective disorder,
schizophrenia and
bi polar 1973 1988
 Both of us have
recovered, a
journey which
started with GROW
What is mental illness?
 Illness?
Distress?
Lack of resources?
Choice/attempt to control?
Call to change?
A normal human process?
Spiritual formation?
What is a human being?
A universal soldier
A sword of
TRUTH
The protection
of friends
Developing
character
On the
battlefield of
life
Two Definitions of
Recovery
The Medical
model
The
empowerment
model
Two
languages
Two sets of
values
Truth as the Medical
Model
 Mental illness a
disease
 The person isn’t
that relevant
 Recovery = cure
through
medication
 Life long
condition
 Same as spinal
chord injury
 Ongoing
dependence
Disease
Friends of the Medical
Model
 Drug Companies
 The Mental
Health Act
 RTE and the
media
 The HSE
 Universities
 Ethics
Committees
Power
and Profit
Character of Medical
Model
Authoritarian
Elitist
Clinical
“Value Free”
Up and out!
Isolated as
human beings
Blame,Shame
& Fear
Truth of service user
I feel useless
I am
powerless
I am afraid
Life has
become too
difficult
Character of service user
Full of pain
Self absorbed
Distrustful of
self or others
Hopeless
Vulnerable
Down and out
Isolated as a
human being
There is no
hope for
me
“Friends” of Service User
The medical
model
The Drug
Company
The
Researcher
The university
The trade
union
The Medical Model
Service User
We are all vulnerable service user
and professional
To despair or false certainty
To isolation or false friends
To pride or shame
To fear or overconfidence
To paternalism or dependency
To false ideas or experience
To feeling we know best
To our beliefs or those of
others
To power or powerlessness
To prestige or stigma
Psychopath
Psycho-the-rapist
Psychiatrist
Schizo
Up and out
Down and out
We are all
subject to
taunts and
jibes
whether
labelled
schizo or
shrink
Service User Research is
Fighting for Dialogue
For
validation
as a human
being
Overview of my research
Exploring the
recovery
narratives of
30 - 40
seasoned
members of
GROW
Research questions
What are the
‘things’,
people,
beliefs,
attitudes and
events that
help recovery,
How might these answers
impact on Vision for Change?
 Give hope to
others
 Training of
professionals
 Generating
leadership
 Saving money
 Creating
community
Barriers
 Two languages
 Bildung! The
inability to see
another view
 The dominance
of the medical
view
 The lack of
resources for
service users
Barriers
 In post modern
times ‘knowledge’ is
bought and sold.
 Human beings have
become cogs in
multi nationals
 These have more
power than
governments
 The mental health
system is about
power
One example
 The medical model
is the lense through
which Trinity’s
ethics committee
peers.
 All my sample
consider themselves
recovered and fulfill
GROW’s definition
of recovery
Ethics Committee Comments
Classify as particularly
vulnerable!
Tick the box for mentally ill!
Ethics committees are not
forums for discussion!!!!
Allelujiah
Opportunities
 Service user
research
empowers
service users
 Removes
barriers
 Allows new
views
 Humanises the
system
 Gives a voice
To Do List
Community
Wisdom
Compassion
Build on days
like today
Encourage
others to
follow
Engage in the
battle for life
Befriend
professionals
A University of Life
Projects
Alternatives
School
interventions
Prevention
Retraining
Meaning and Reenchantment
Compassion
wisdom
The success or failure of efforts in
community care
Will depend less on mental
health professionals ability to
create supportive environments
or teach specific skills and more
on their ability to find and
encourage naturally occuring
niches. I believe service user
research is a prime example of
this.
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Ethical Approval for Qualitative Research