How Can Allies Support LXPs Against Discrimination?

Musings on a Twitter Thread by Tamar Jeynes

I often think a lot of my best bits of inspiration come on Twitter – it’s fast paced, with lots of witty banter. The critique is harsh, but there is a lot to learn if people listen. 

A recruitment drive for psychology posts at a Birmingham NHS Trust on Twitter lauded the positive aspects of the organisation, whilst showcasing the wide range of posts amongst its 5000 staff and advertising some of these.

One of the Birmingham Coalition who had attended a board meeting where LXPs had asked about the organisation rejecting funding to employ just ONE LXP at a more senior band saw the thread. The difference in how Lived Experience Professionals were treated, versus their ‘sane’ counterparts, could not be more stark. They were so disgusted that they added a response, stating they would never work for the organisation after seeing the way it treated its LXPs.

I too had felt pain reading the recruitment thread, the confirmation of being seen as ‘less than’ was particularly concrete after the experience having had the first senior LXP opportunity in a decade quashed, without so much as a tokenistic attempt at ‘involving’ any LXPs in the decision. Even the dreaded abuse of an unpaid service user with no understanding or experience of LXP work to rubber stamp something and claim ‘co-production’ wasn’t used. So yes, I could very much understand the person’s irritation and anger, I felt it too.

However, the response was different to ones we had received elsewhere. I wish we could receive such responses elsewhere as standard – first of all, he validated the experience and the impact it had. This may not sound like much, but LXPs are constantly being told these experiences are not discrimination, have not happened the way they think they have, or are otherwise questionable.  Validation is refreshing, so different to its polar opposite – gaslighting: whereby all self-belief and self-worth is gradually stripped away.

The next stand out part of the tweet was the apology. The apology meant so much, because it was something that was usually wrapped up in ‘we are sorry that your feelings were hurt’, a careful avoidance of actually apologising for doing whatever shitty thing caused the hurt in the first place.

Before becoming too excited though: the tweet’s author was not the person who would be making the decisions of whether to hire, fire, block or build up staff.

This led to a Twitter thread musing on what allies could do to support LXPs, and what Leaders could do to make real changes that would make a real difference.

Read it below:

1.There is something so heartening about seeing a Tweet that acknowledges that the issues #LXPs have are real & they do have an impact. Because discrimination usually isn’t acknowledged #LXPs never get to hear the words “I’m Sorry” as a genuine apology as opposed to being in the>

2. context of ‘your perception’ being skewed or ‘your feelings’ being hurt, which is like a backhanded way of being told that the way you are being treated is caused by you & not the people doing it to you. It places fault back with you, rather than being the responsibility >

3. of people accountable within organisations to change discriminatory behaviours. It lets people who lead organisations off the hook if there’s no acknowledgement an issue exists, because then there are no national campaigns to appease, no pesky equalities targets to reach. >

4. The most sinister impact of telling #LXPs that the discrimination they face is their own ‘perception’ is that it has insidious undertones of pathologisation, especially for service users managing psychosis or trauma that includes a different perception of reality as a symptom>

5. The issue of gaslighting #LXPs is a very real and very harmful one. There is also the high risk of colleagues abusing power, whether unconsciously or maliciously. But staff can help #LXPs by listening to & validating their experiences of discrimination in the workplace. >

6. Colleagues can also ensure that they do not stand by and be complicit when these instances of discrimination take place. Back up your #LXP colleague, even if you can’t stop the exclusion or discrimination. Many LXPs are isolated from colleagues in their discipline, so doing >

7. this can be invaluable. I wish that I’d had colleagues within teams I’ve worked in that I could have relied on. This won’t cure the issue, but it may be what helps your colleague survive it at work. The issue of stopping discrimination lies firmly with people leading in these>

8. organisations to ensure that they develop systems & structures alongside #LXP consultants who are experienced and trained in this area, paying them equally & Sharing decision making power with the staff they are working with. There is no excuse to use unpaid service users who>

9. have no experience of #LXP work, the discrimination faced, the specialist types of supervision needed, the structures and systems that need to be in place to support this and the specialist nature of some LXP roles, meaning that training and CPD is a factor to include. >

10. The very use of unpaid service users or #LXPs who are new in post, untrained or inexperienced in this area & are not given shared decision making power is that they will not have the knowledge to ensure that these aspects are in place, or the power to do this. They can more >

11. easily be used to rubber stamp an initiative than an #LXP consultant trained to work in this area, whose job and professional reputation will include ensuring that necessary structures are in place and will ask tough questions when necessary. The result of not doing that is >

12. #LXPs who then have to work under inadequate structures that unpaid service users or early career LXPs have been used to rubber stamp WILL lead to distress, high staff turnover, leave LXPs vulnerable to discrimination. I’ve seen my colleagues hospitalised over this. >

13. I’VE been hospitalised due to the impact of inadequate structures and experiencing discrimination, in my attempts to try to draw attention to and change this. I am very aware that one day, these issues could cost someone their life. That could have been one of my colleagues >

14. It could have been me. So please, please – those of you who have read this far, actively think about how you can support your #LXP colleagues in the work they do. You never know what a difference you may be making or how much that person may need that. >

15. The tweet I shared at the beginning of the thread by @Mianthrope is a great example of the right way to respond. He acknowledged #LXP discrimination was real & that it had a real impact. He apologised. He talked about there being a long way to go and actively working on it >

16. However, it has to be acknowledged that @Mianthrope isn’t responsible for the structures and discrimination, so although the apology is kind, it is not coming from those ultimately responsible for this. The reparation – the future change, is also in their hands >

17. Discrimination towards #LXPs is not something that is unique to ‘bad’ individuals, ‘bad’ organisations or even ‘bad’ areas. It is very much a universal issue, like any other type of discrimination, and needs awareness and active work to address it. >

18. Leaders, we need you to step up and recognise the discrimination your Lived Experience Professionals #LXPs face. We needs you to be aware of the additional risk of gaslighting that comes with being open about a mental health diagnosis >

19. Leaders, we need you to put aside egos. We need you to give up power and start sharing power with #LXPs. That is what co-production is, a sharing of decision making power. That means us designing our own structures for working & support >

20. Leaders, if you really are serious about coproduction with Lived Experience Professionals #LXPs, you will employ us through all levels of hierarchy in your organisation. From your Exec & non-Exec Board members through to apprentice Peer Support Workers. It will happen ✊🏻✊🏽✊🏿

@threadreaderapp please unroll ❤️

Originally tweeted by Tamar Whyte-Jeynes 👖 (@tamar_whyte) on 13th Jul 2021.

— You can also read the entire thread here: threadreaderapp.com/thread/1415080020750606337.html

Published by LXPRevolution

DEMANDING EQUITY FOR THE LIVED EXPERIENCE PROFESSIONS

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