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Recovery Support Officer identifies with patients and staff

13 October 2017

This Queensland Mental Health Week, when Emma Davidson walked the corridors of Princess Alexandra Hospital’s (PAH) Mental Health Unit she was greeted warmly by all.  

As a Recovery Support Officer with a lived experience of mental health illness and addiction, Ms Davidson was in a unique positon where she could identify with both patients and staff. 

“I’m blessed to be able to use my story with meaning and purpose in a productive way, and carry hope for people and their families while they are in hospital,” she said.

“Years ago, one of the greatest therapeutic interventions for me was meeting somebody who had been through the same challenges and had come out the other side.

“It gave me an injection of hope that I hadn’t felt for a long time, and that led to me asking for other help and getting the help I needed.”

Recovery Support Officers help people to gain their own sense of confidence and hope about their journey of recovery from mental health illness.

Ms Davidson said she acted as a bridge between clinical staff and patients.

“Naturally, people are more likely to open up to people they have a rapport with,” she said.

“There is an energy shift when I disclose that I use to be unwell. Some people are really surprised and others may not believe me at first, but slowly as the relationship grows and  knowing I have been through the same challenges really helps people to connect,” she said. 

“That connection and trust means I can help clinicians to explain medical information and can also work with them to identify recovery goals.”

Ms Davidson said she felt blessed to be able to talk openly about her experiences at work. 

“It’s a real freedom that I am able to identify that I have a lived experience,” she said.

“This Queensland Mental Health Week and every week, I’d love for there to be more conversations and for people to feel safe to share their experience.  

“Talking about mental health is one of the first steps for changing how our whole community views it. We can all play a part in raising awareness and reducing negative stigma.”

Last updated 13 October 2017
Last reviewed 13 October 2017

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