Committed to improving outcomes for people living with mental illness


What is a Serious Mental Illness Living Experience Consultant?

Serious Mental Illness

  • This relates to the nature of Steve’s diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and Complex PTSD, and the elevated risk of suicidal behaviour, that is present in his life.

  • It encompasses experiences that, whilst not exclusive to serious mental illnesses, are more prevalent with Bipolar Disorder. These include: inpatient care, multiple suicide attempts, interactions with the police, lifelong medication, as well as experiencing the complexities of the mental health system, stigma and discrimination.

Living Experience

The term ‘lived’ suggests that a mental illness was in the past.

  • The impact of Steve’s illness is ever present and requires daily attention.

  • His on-going contact with services gives Steve a real-time insight into the state of mental health services.

  • Over the course of recent years Steve has experienced a number of depressive episodes, requiring intensive psychology therapy and changes to medication. He also endured a difficult period of suicidal thoughts, which required a coordinated approach by his medical team.


Steve  has invested considerable time, energy and resources into developing a professional skill-set that enables him to meet the high level demands of the work. It is his ability to act as a consultant, using his insight of life with a mental illness, coupled with effective skills, as detailed below, that has enabled Steve to fulfil the role requirements of work such as the Mental Health Act review:

  • researching and summarising key information;

  • critically analysing complex arguments;

  • working collaboratively with colleagues and other stakeholders;

  • chairing meetings;

  • public speaking;

  • leading service user and carer working groups;

  • networking and rapport building;

  • strategic thinking and planning;

  • leading key lines of enquiry; 

  • effective communication skills;

  • highly organised and able to work to tight time scales; and

  • highly self-motivated.

Since adopting the title in late 2015, Steve has found it hugely helpful for explaining to people the role he is performing, and how he is providing value to any given piece of work. It has also helped him to feel comfortable working in a space which is dominated by professionals with imposing titles and the weight of substantial organisations behind them.

“It has become one of my most effective tools and has helped me to level the playing the field as it were.”