Benefits for Organizations When They Incorporate Lived Experience

Organizations experience benefits at many levels by including community members who have relevant lived experience. Research from the fields of community-based participatory research; organizational empowerment, development, and improvement; and social justice indicate clear benefits for organizations and agencies when they include community members with lived experience at high levels of planning and decision-making in both volunteer and paid employment roles.1-4 The list below illustrates many of the benefits for organizations when they incorporate people with lived experience in their planning and decision-making processes.

Equitable Workplace

  • Operate equitably, genuinely, and authentically
  • Break down hierarchies and avoid stagnation
  • Humanize activities and services
  • Increase inclusiveness
  • Help set priorities for related initiatives
  • Challenge societal discrimination, prejudice, customs, and practices

Quality Improvement

  • Develop high-quality, effective, and relevant policies, projects, interventions, services, and initiatives
  • Operationalize policy issues by illustrating the real life and practical challenges in implementing laws, policies, and strategies efficiently and effectively
  • Add depth to service and activity planning, development, delivery, evaluation, and improvement
  • Inspire innovation to improve services and activities
  • Ensure that services and activities remain true to the vision and values of the organization

Staff Development

  • Empower staff to embrace their own lived experience
  • Effectively use people’s unique skills, capabilities, diverse perspectives, experiential knowledge, and insights
  • Develop employee and volunteer skills and knowledge of suicide prevention beyond theoretical and textbook learning

Community Engagement

  •  Ensure that the activities and services reflect the needs of the individuals and/or communities they serve
  •  Create a sense of service and community ownership
  •  Strengthen identity and gain credibility and legitimacy with communities, government, and the wider society
  •  Build relationships of trust with communities and individuals; increase reach, leverage, and traction of activities and services; and generate social capital




  1. Byrne, L. (2017). Promoting lived experience perspective. Discussion paper prepared for the Queensland Mental Health Commission. Retrieved from
  2. C. Wells, Axis Group I. (2011). The role of consumers with lived experience in mental health workforce development. Tallahassee, FL: Café TAC. Retrieved from
  3. 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
  4. Wallerstein, N. (2006). What is the evidence on effectiveness of empowerment to improve health? Copenhagen, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Health Evidence Network report. Retrieved from​
  5. Lezine, D. (2014).  Crisis center support for suicide attempt survivors: Results from a Lifeline survey. Prevention Communities. Unpublished research report provided by the author.