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What is research really about? We ask the Research Advisory Committee

In May, Flourish Australia asked people who access our services if they wanted to join our Research Advisory Committee. 

Members of the Research Advisory Committee attend monthly online meetings in which they advise on research activities at Flourish Australia, including future directions for research at the organisation. They identify as someone with a lived or living experience of mental health challenges, and typically have research experience in a university, community, private or government setting.

“Research is about acquiring information or data in issues of interest, concern or urgent need to people with lived experience,” said Research Advisory Committee member Simon Swinson. 

“In our case it is from the point of view of the lived experience researcher.”

“The data can be either quantitative i.e. facts, or numbers or percentages. Or it can be qualitative, i.e. reports on experiences, feelings, thoughts etc,” Simon says.

“Our involvement is important because lived experience is crucial to understanding how mental health issues manifest themselves and what recovery involves. No matter how expert the experts may be, they can’t speak for us.”

Fellow Research Advisory Committee member Anne O’Grady agrees.

“Research is conducted because researchers ask questions that other researchers haven’t answered yet,” she says.

“It is essential that mental health research is led by people with lived experience of mental health issues so that their questions get priority for research.”

Flourish Australia's Research Advisory Committee bridges the gap between research and real-world experience. By incorporating the perspectives of those who have lived through mental health challenges, the committee ensures research is not only informative but also directly relevant to those it aims to help. This collaborative approach paves the way for more effective research and ultimately, better support for individuals on their mental health recovery journey.

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