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Table of contents

Involving consumers and carers

Sourcing consumers and carers

To source consumers and carers, you can use your existing networks, or the organisations suggested below.

Selecting consumers and carers

You must select consumers and carers who:

  • have personal experience of mental illness, or of caring for someone with a mental illness
  • have accessed and navigated mental health services
  • have the appropriate skills to effectively contribute to the planning, development, delivery and review of your course
  • have previously contributed to multidisciplinary projects in primary care or other programs in the mental health sector
  • are involved with a recognised consumer or carer advocacy organisation.

Supporting consumers and carers

You must provide appropriate support to consumers and carers throughout their involvement. This could include administrative support to ensure consumers and carers have the required documents and details of where the training will be delivered.

After the training is delivered, consumers and carers should be given the opportunity to debrief. It is also recommended that you follow up with the consumer and carer after the training is delivered to inform future training requirements and ensure the consumer and carer are satisfied with the outcomes of the training.

Achieving genuine involvement of consumers and carers

To achieve genuine consumer and carer involvement, you must:

  • actively involve consumers and carers in all stages of the course, including the:
    • initial planning processes
    • development of program content and materials
    • delivery of the course
    • review and evaluation of the course
  • limit their contributions to a consumer or carer perspective so that they do not take on other roles (for more information, see No dual roles for consumers and carers)
  • recognise that the perspectives of consumers and the perspectives of carers are usually different, and therefore actively and separately address each perspective (consumer and carers) in each stage.

Table 5 shows the nature of involvement that is required at each stage.

Table 5. Consumer and carer involvement in skills training courses


Consumer and carer involvement


§ Active involvement in the formal planning process

§ Representation on planning or advisory groups


§ Active contribution to selecting and/or developing program content, including course materials and resources

§ Input from experienced individuals or consultation with focus groups


§ For each consumer and carer, a minimum 15-minute presentation of their perspective or lived experience in an interactive discussion (see Presentations by consumers and carers)


§ Involvement in the formal review of the training including a review of the learning outcomes and evaluation and feedback received by participants

No dual roles for consumers and carers

A consumer or carer must provide the perspective of either a consumer or a carer but not both. For example, a carer who has also experienced mental illness cannot represent both the carer and consumer perspectives.

While someone’s lived experience in more than one role may give them greater perspective, it is preferable that each person brings just one perspective to their involvement in your course.

Similarly, if you involve a health professional who is also a consumer or carer, their involvement must not inform their lived experience as a consumer or carer. For example, it is inappropriate for a GP to present their lived experienced as a consumer or carer.

Presentations by consumers and carers

An experienced consumer and an experienced carer should present during an interactive session where participants can ask about their lived experience of mental illness. This should include their perspectives of relevant issues, such as challenges, treatment and recovery from a trauma-informed perspective. An effective way of presenting these interactive discussions is to conduct an interview, so that you make sure all areas are covered (see Suggested questions to ask a consumer and Suggested questions to ask a carer).

Presentations not in-person

If the consumer and/or carer is unable to present in person, or if the course is e-learning, contact the GPMHSC Secretariat to discuss alternatives that meet the learning outcomes.

If the content relating to the consumers’ and carers’ perspective is a prerecorded video, submit this as part of your application.

Consumers and carers with particular skills

Consumers and carers with appropriate skills could lead a discussion based on their lived experiences and their perspectives on treatment and recovery.

Appropriately experienced consumers and carers could also give feedback during role-plays.

Suggested questions to ask a consumer

The GPMHSC recommends questions that address the following key topics:

  • diagnosis of mental illness
  • seeing the GP
  • impact of mental illness

Table 6 contains suggested questions for interviews with consumers. If you would like more ideas for questions, contact the GPMHSC Secretariat.

Table 6. Suggested questions to ask a consumer


Sample questions for consumers


§ When were you first diagnosed with a mental illness?

§ What was the impact of a diagnosis for you?

§ Was the diagnosis helpful?

Seeing the GP

§ What was helpful/unhelpful?

§ How involved were you in developing the GP MHTP?

§ What else could the GP have done to help you receive the treatment and support you needed?

Impact of mental illness

§ How has your mental illness impacted your life?

§ What were positive and negative aspects of living with a mental illness?


§ What does recovery mean to you?

§ What strategies do you use to manage your mental illness?

§ What services or resources have helped you in your recovery?

Suggested questions to ask a carer

The GPMHSC recommends questions that address four key topics:

  • role as a carer
  • the impact of being a carer on your life and wellbeing
  • seeing the GP

Table 7 contains suggested questions for interviews with carers. If you would like more ideas for questions, contact the GPMHSC Secretariat.

Table 7. Suggested questions to ask a carer


Sample questions for carers

Role as a carer

§ What is your relationship with the person living with a mental illness?

§ How long have you been in this role?

Impact of being a carer on life and wellbeing

§ How has your role of carer affected your life?

§ How does caring for a person living with a mental illness affect your daily life?

§ How do you take care of yourself as a carer?

Seeing the GP

§ What has been helpful/unhelpful about the help you have received from your GP?

§ Were you involved in developing the GP MHTP for the person you care for? If so, was this helpful?

§ What do you want GPs to know about the caring role?


§ What does recovery mean to you?

§ What has been your role in the person’s recovery journey?

§ What services or resources have helped the person you care for in their recovery?