Exploring the benefits and challenges of being a consumer educator in nursing education: A scoping review

Publication Name

Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing


What is known on the subject The mental health needs of individuals are increasing following the COVID-19 pandemic, with a need to focus on the education of nurses to be equipped to respond. Stigma around mental health still exists for nursing students, with the implementation of mental health education by an individual with lived experience having a known positive effect on stigmatizing attitudes. Research on consumer involvement in nursing education identifies that the consumer role is often varied and casual, with no existing review on the consumer experience. What the paper adds to existing knowledge The study emphasizes the importance of consumer involvement in nursing education. Alongside the literature focussing on the student benefits, this review highlights both the benefits of being an educator, and the challenges of being an educator from the consumer's perspective. Implications for practice: The knowledge around the consumer perspective mapped in this review has the potential to impact and transform education protocols for consumer involvement in education. This can maximize on the meaningful contribution that lived experience has within mental health nursing education. This review enforces the need for an awareness of the challenges consumers face in their role as an educator, and highlights the need for further understanding of how to overcome these challenges. There is also an opportunity to capitalize on the benefits identified by consumers in their role within nursing education and sharing their lived experience. Abstract: Introduction While the mental health needs of populations are increasing, the targeted training of mental health professionals, specifically nurses, is required. Stigma surrounding mental health from nursing students exists, highlighting educational gaps. To address this, the involvement of consumers in undergraduate education has resulted in a positive effect on the stigmatizing attitudes of nursing students. There is still a limited understanding, however, of the consumers experience in this process. Aim To explore the experiences of individuals living with mental illness in educating nursing students. Methods The Joanna Brigg's Institute's (JBI) methodology for scoping reviews was used to search CINAHL, Medline, PsychInfo, Web of Science and Scopus including grey literature. The eligibility criteria for participants included individuals (a) diagnosed with a mental illness; (b) over 18 years of age; and (c) who participated in the educating of nursing students surrounding mental health in any context. Articles were only considered that were in the English language, and no time constraint was enforced during the search strategy for article selection. The search yielded 2640 results, of which 26 articles were included. Results Results found two prominent categories, including both benefits and challenges of being the educator from the consumer perspective. The benefits included: (a) the person behind the diagnosis; (b) reciprocal relationships; (c) positive effects on well-being; (d) unique contribution; and (e) purpose in storytelling. Challenges identified included: (a) vulnerability; (b) voyeuristic; (c) lack of preparation; (d) negative effects on well-being; (e) support; (f) not a real consumer; (g) variation of involvement; and (h) acknowledging consumer perspective. Discussion As consumer-led education for mental health nursing curriculum becomes mandated, amplifying the voice of the consumer in nursing education is crucial. While the benefits and challenges voiced by consumers in their involvement in mental health nursing education have been outlined here, further knowledge focussed on the consumer's experience as an educator outside the classroom setting, and in clinical practicum, alongside consumer involvement in specialized mental health education sessions, could aid in transforming consumer involvement. Implications for practice This review offers an incentive for nurse educators to capitalize on the benefits of educating for consumers to promote a meaningful contribution, while also practicing with an awareness of voiced challenges.

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