Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Psychology - Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences


There is increasing recognition of the need for mental health consumers to be fully involved in mental health research; however, there is limited knowledge about mental health consumers' experiences as researchers. This knowledge is important if genuine research partnerships with consumers are to be successfully developed. The research presented here aimed to use accounts by consumers of mental health services to develop an understanding of the experiential and psychological processes of consumers becoming researchers. To achieve this, two qualitative studies were conducted. The first study explored the experiences of being a consumer of mental health services, through a series of focus groups and interviews. Study 2 consisted of an exploration of the experiences for mental health consumers, new to research, in becoming evaluation researchers. The themes resulting from an interpretative phenomenological analysis of consumers' accounts in the two studies provide a rich and wholistic view of the experiences of being a consumer of mental health services, and their experiences of becoming researchers. The results demonstrate that the experience of becoming a researcher was complex, with challenges, benefits, personal change and a range of emotional reactions. The results from Study 1 and Study 2 were then used to develop a model of consumers' experiences becoming researchers. The broader implications of the understanding of consumers' experiences of becoming researchers developed in this research, for developing consumers' roles as researchers and for mental health service provision and clinical practice are discussed. Additionally, the theoretical and methodological implications of the research conducted are examined. Finally, the limitations of the research and directions for future research are discussed.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.