Levels of Engagement

There are many ways to incorporate lived experience into an organization. As people with lived experience become more welcomed and valued by an organization, they may be involved at increasing levels of engagement, including in planning and decision-making. Authentic integration of lived experience moves away from tokenism (e.g., filling a designated slot) to active engagement in the organization’s work, and individuals can make contributions that represent the breadth of their knowledge, skills, and experience. 

The most integrated, sustained, and consistent form of engagement is to involve individuals in leadership positions. Having lived experience clearly represented at the highest levels of an organization makes a significant statement about an organization’s commitment to including experiential knowledge as a valuable contribution to suicide prevention. The following table describes potential types of engagement within organizations. Each type has a different degree of integration, maturing of the organizational culture, and valuing of personal experiences within an organization. The highest level of integration indicates an organizational culture that is fully inclusive of lived experience perspectives. This level may take time, planning, and effort but will make the workplace more welcoming, equitable, inclusive, and effective.

Engagement Description Table