About Lived Experience


Lived Experience Defined

A person with lived experience understands first-hand the unique life journey of people with mental health, substance abuse, trauma, or special needs. They use their perspectives to make systems better. Lasting transformation occurs when these wise voices are welcomed and heard.


​​​​​​​“Participation from those with lived experience helps us develop the best programs to meet people's needs."  


Why Include with People with Lived Experience?

People with lived experience provide an authentic perspective that contributes to a deeper and richer understanding of mental health needs and service gaps. They use their voice and perspective to transform systems to better serve children and families. Intentionally partnering with lived experience leaders is the key to:

  • Building equity and reducing barriers to care.
  • Empowering individuals who demonstrate resiliency in their journey.
  • Demonstrating that hope and recovery are possible for all families.
  • Building compassion in professional stakeholders by really hearing the stories of lived experience. 

“Families/young adults as co-leaders regularly teach us about resiliency, empowerment and strength in vulnerability."


What Lived Experience Leadership Looks Like

  • Seeking the thoughts and feedback of consumers or program participants
  • Employing staff who have previously received services at your organization
  • Inviting and supporting people to participate in a workgroup when the topic affects them personally
  • Sharing decision-making power so clients can determine how the program looks and feels
  • Recognizing that someone with personal experience may know more about the topic or how to fix the challenges within the system

 “Lived experience is the best teacher…"

How Systems Partner

Partnership with lived experience starts with sharing power. Sharing power means we create space and opportunity for people with lived experience to meaningfully participate in the planning, implementation, and evaluation process of the work that we do.

Involving lived experience can look different from one organization to another. There are different levels to how an organization can incorporate lived experience. 

Click here for tools and resources to help bring lived experience to your work.

​Learn more about the Office of Children's Mental Health Lived Experience Partners here. 

Would you like to join us as an Office of Children's Mental Health Lived Experience Partner? 

Parents and caregivers sign up here.  Youth and young adults sign up here.