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Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa
Let us keep close together, not wide apart.

This whakatauki speaks to the importance of keeping connected, of maintaining relationships and dialogue so that we can keep moving forward together.

The whakatauki above reminds me of the wisdom of a co-facilitation model that draws on the knowledge of both lived experience and clinical approaches to supporting communities. As a facilitator with Blueprint for Learning (Blueprint) for several years, I have seen how this unique approach to mental health literacy brings together the best from both baskets of knowledge. Seeing this reflected out in this latest research paper from Blueprint and Te Pou is exciting and also confirms all the anecdotal feedback from participants that I have heard over the years. It has been my privilege to write a few reflections on the paper.

An effective co-facilitation model

There has been a sparse amount of research done into what makes a co-facilitation model effective in delivery. From a New Zealand context, even less so. Mental health literacy has often consisted of experts giving information, however as this research suggests there are a wealth of benefits to be had when people can see concepts in action. The paper demonstrates how the use of effective co-facilitation alongside personal stories left a lasting impression on participants. Stories, in particular, enable people to connect with the humanness of the experience, to reflect on their own whānau and communities, to put a face to an experience that may be abstract, confusing or gained from stereotypes and misinformation. As reflected in the paper the co-facilitation approach also uplifts the mana of the voices of lived experience. Both facilitators are given equal status. This represents a stark contrast to programmes that may be largely professional lead with either no lived experience input or a cameo appearance from a person with lived experience.

My experience

My experience has been that participants also connect to stories of lived experience and find them more engaging, which has been reflected in this research. It is no surprise that participants who are highly engaged are likely to learn better, they often retain information better and can recall it with greater clarity later on. For a mental health literacy programme, this is highly desirable. We want participants to take their learnings out into the real world and put their learnings into practice to support their communities. Alongside effective sharing of lived experience stories, the research also identifies additional factors that impact on participants satisfaction with co-facilitation. These included factors such as the use use of clear concise language, facilitator knowledge and skills and demonstrating respect and valuing participants.

Workforce development

Workforce development is a key area in order for people to thrive in their facilitation roles. The research gives us insight into some important considerations to effectively retain and support current and future facilitators. This means we can reflect on which practices may support facilitators to work sustainably and safely in their roles. It is a positive move to see this given consideration in this research. Future possibilities for research could expand on the elements that facilitators themselves report as effectively supporting them to remain sustainable in their roles.

Ngā mihi to the Blueprint and Te Pou team for the time, effort and dedication to this research.

Renee McDermott

Lived experience facilitator
Blueprint for Learning


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