In early 2023, the Co-Design Living Labs Network partnered with NEAMI National on a new project called ‘Conversations that Count’. NEAMI National approached us as they were looking at improving their model of care and to develop better tools that foster helpful conversations between practitioners and people accessing support for their mental health.
The idea was to invite Co-Design Living Labs members to share creative ideas about real conversations that have ‘counted’ to them or been helpful for their recovery, supporting their mental health journey in some way. Members were invited and supported to share their ideas through our crowdsourcing platform on the ALIVE Centre website. Crowdsourcing involves sourcing ideas from ‘crowds’ to work together to solve tricky problems. For the ALIVE National Centre, we use crowdsourcing to work together with crowds to solve the implementation and translation challenges in mental health in Australia.
We received 12 contributions from Co-Design Living Labs Network members. You can see 9 up on our crowdsourcing platform (from members who were happy to share publicly) and the other 3 were shared privately with the NEAMI National team. By understanding the different tools that foster helpful conversations between healthcare practitioners and people who are accessing support for their mental health, we can better understand how to support people who attend services like NEAMI National.
An example of one of the stories submitted was titled ‘Talking about Dreams’, by Lucy. Lucy wrote about how they had experienced significant trauma in their mental health journey. Lucy described seeking assistance from a psychologist who encouraged them to talk openly about their vivid dreams in a safe space. Lucy described their conversations together as resulting in feelings of enlightenment and positivity. The dreams became much less intense, and it was a very helpful way of “bringing out the trauma” for Lucy.
On a personal level, I was excited to be able to reflect on and share my own experience about one of the important conversations that I’ve had with my GP that has been meaningful to me on my recovery journey. By sharing the story around my conversation, I felt empowered that I would be helping spread awareness of the importance of healthcare providers to listen deeply and in an unhurried manner. It felt good to know that I would be contributing and creating a positive change for others to learn from when they read my story.
We are continuing to work with NEAMI National on this project and will collaborate on the next steps for co-designing tools to support conversations between healthcare practitioners and people accessing mental health services. We also look forward to using crowdsourcing in The ALIVE National Centre’s flagship project ‘PEACE’, which is a citizen science project using co-design approaches to co-create ‘BigaagARi’, a preventative health model for implementing at-scale in primary care and community.