Benefits for Individuals with Lived Experience

Involving individuals with lived experience in your organizational planning, strategy implementation, practice reviews, policy development, and leadership, and honoring their life experiences can have many benefits for individuals with lived experience. In general, these benefits include professional development, personal development, community advocacy, and social network growth.1-6  The list below provides examples of each of these types of benefits.

Professional Development

  • Enhance professional skills and abilities
  • Demonstrate leadership
  • Improve personal understanding of community and organizational dynamics
  • Develop professional networks
  • Effectively use unique skills, capabilities, perspective, experiential knowledge, and insights

Personal Development

  • Develop a personal sense of purpose
  • Increase personal empowerment
  • Transform painful experiences into creating positive solutions for the community and others
  • Improve self-confidence, self-efficacy, and self-esteem
  • Validate personal opinions and viewpoints

Community Advocacy

  • Facilitate connection with the community
  • Create change that benefits individuals and the community
  • Challenge prejudice, discrimination, customs, practices, and assumptions
  • Identify issues and outline solutions that might not occur to and/or be understood by those who have not had life experience with suicide
  • Use personal perspective in developing and influencing policies, projects, interventions, services, and initiatives

Social Network

  • Build relationships with others who are interested in this cause
  • Support and help others
  • Inspire others to advocate for change



  1. Byrne, L. (2017). Promoting lived experience perspective. Discussion paper prepared for the Queensland Mental Health Commission. Retrieved from
  2. Ramos, R., Brauchli, R., Bauer, G., Wehner, T., & Hämmig, O. (2015). Busy yet socially engaged: Volunteering, work–life balance, and health in the working population. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 57(2), 164–172.,.8.aspx
  3. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Center for Mental Health Services. (2011). Consumer-operated services: Getting started with evidence-based practices. HHS Pub. No. SMA-11-4633. Rockville, MD: Author. Retrieved from
  4. Sandu, B. (2017, July). The value of lived experience in social change: The need for leadership and organisational development in the social sector. Retrieved from
  5. Thoits, P. A., & Hewitt L. N. (2001). Volunteer work and well-being. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 42(2), 115–131.
  6. Yeung, J. W. K., Zhang, Z., & Kim, T. Y. (2018). Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: Cumulative effects and forms. BMC Public Health 18(8). Retrieved from