Doing what we can, but knowing our place: Being an ally to promote consumer leadership in mental health

Brenda Happell, Brett Scholz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)


Consumer participation in all aspects of mental health services is clearly articulated as an expectation of contemporary mental health policy. Consumer leadership has been demonstrated to be beneficial to mental health services. Barriers to implementation have limited the realization of this goal. In this discursive paper, we argue that non-consumers who support consumer partnerships and leadership (known as ‘allies’) have an important role to play in facilitating and supporting consumers in leadership roles. Allies currently have more potential to influence resource allocation, and might be viewed more credibly by their peers than consumer leaders themselves. We call for allies to ensure their role is one of support and facilitation (doing what they can), rather than directing the content or speaking on behalf of the consumer movement (knowing their place). In the present study, we address the importance of allies for the consumer movement. It proposes some ‘rules of engagement’ to ensure that allies do not intentionally or otherwise encroach on consumer knowledge and expertise, so that they maintain the important position of supporting consumers and facilitating the valuing and use of consumer knowledge, expertise, and ultimately, leadership

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)440-447
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Mental Health Nursing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018


Dive into the research topics of 'Doing what we can, but knowing our place: Being an ally to promote consumer leadership in mental health'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this