Become A Lived Experience Leader

girl-drepressed-floor-hand-reaching.jpgLiving with and supporting mental illness is not easy. Services can be challenging to access, emergencies can happen often, and loved ones may not fully understand how it feels to walk in your shoes. Not everyone knows what it is like to live this life. If you have walked the walk of children's mental health, you have experience that can help transform the system for good! 


Your Experience (And Your Story) Matters

Agency professionals need help recognizing why programs and services don't work, and need thoughtful advice on how to make things better for families. Your unique experience gives you the opportunity to inspire change in the mental health system by sharing how services, programs, and systems actually play out. You are more than a number or statistic- your personal story and unique perspective is the key to improving the children's mental health system.

What Lived Experience Leadership Can Look Like

People like you all across Wisconsin stand up to transform the system of children's mental health by being a lived experience leader. The time commitment could be a few hours a month if you join a committee, or you could speak up at scheduled conferences or events, only a few hours each year. If public speaking isn't your thing, providing feedback on written documents or resources is a great way to be involved.

Serving as a representative of lived experience is an opportunity that can fit any schedule, interest, or geographic area. ​

Share Your Expert Insight

The Wisconsin Office of Children's Mental Health (OCMH) is committed to supporting caregivers, parents and young people from across the state who want to use their lived experience to inspire hope and change. Volunteer to be a Lived Experience Leader with the Office of Children's Mental Health to receive these benefits:

  • Introductory training on telling your story, serving on groups, and systems thinking

  • Regular connection and mentorship from peers with lived experience in Wisconsin

  • Opportunities to connect with professional stakeholders

  • Break down stigma and empower others while using your voice

Sign up to serve as an OCMH Lived Experience Partner: Parent Application or Young Adult Application ​

Training & Support for Lived Experience Leaders

Anyone with lived experience has a story to tell and unique perspective to share. You are not alone in having the passion and personal experience to effect change to the children's mental health system.

Many trainings and resources exist to help prepare you to share your story and collaborate with agency or coalition leaders. The following resources are provided to help anyone who has lived experience hone their skills to be a leader.

This page is regularly updated. Please send along resources you find helpful to​.


Worksheet for Family Leaders

This is a great starting point! This reflective tool helps those with lived experience consider their work with professional partners, and offers many examples of how they can get involved to make changes.


Person-First Language Guide

Words matter. This guide offers alternatives to common phrases in order to be strength-based and person-centered.


Up To Me Training

Workbook for parents or young people who identify as having lived experience with mental health to formulate their personal story and consider when, where, and with whom to share their story.


How To Tell Your Story

There is a lot that goes behind telling a personal story to make policy or system change. This resource offers clear guidance on how to prepare a story to hopefully convince decision makers that change is needed.


Serving on Groups   

Guidebook to support individuals participating in decision-making groups to understand the dynamics and be most effective as an advocate.

Giving Feedback as the Voice of Lived Experience​

Analyzing policy or written tools is a great way for lived experience leaders to use their expertise. This guide provides a framework and suggestions for how to most effectively give feedback on written materials.

Core Competencies for Family Leaders

Looking for how else you improve your skills? On pages 12-15, this guide provides a list of recommended competencies for people with lived experience.


Individual Effectiveness Plan for Parent Leaders in Advisory Positions- PACER Center

Take this self-assessment to see where you can continuing growing as a lived experience leader.