We are all consumers. Almost certainly, we are all healthcare consumers as well.
But I feel like I don’t often enough see my colleagues (many of whom are mental health professionals) sharing their own frustrations as consumers within the very same system we work as professionals.
I understand why of course. There’s a time and a place, and arguably this is not the place.
This place, LinkedIn is where we network and share our professional perspectives, our professional personas and build our professional reputation.
But if we truly want to normalise, destigmatise, humanise the struggles and suffering experienced by people we care about and care for, I am not convinced that the best way to do that is to have an uncrossable demarcation between the healers and the people who need healing.
We are surely not being true to ourselves at least.
When I was Chief Product Officer at Oqea and leading the product development the topic of co-design and consumer engagement often came up.
Mainly that we should do more of it. Which of course we should. Inviting the consumers into the conversation, into the design process seems like a no-brainer.
But what I often tried to convey was that we don’t have to look too far at all to find out what consumers want. Within ourselves and within our own office the number of consumers is fairly closely equal to the number of employees within those walls.
I would often use myself as an example when talking about the justification for one feature or another. Nothing that would alarm anyone but referencing my difficulty sleeping for example.
The reason I did this was not to turn everyone’s attention to me, but to try to model the simple fact that we are all consumers.
And to emphasise that if we as solution providers cannot develop a solution that we would happily use ourselves then we are not there yet. It’s a simple and very accessible benchmark.
Certainly it would be fair to say that there may be minimal experience in the room of the more acute end of the mental illness spectrum.
But when we are trying to spread the word that mental health - like physical health - is for all then that should include ourselves. We do not sit above or outside of that truth.