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Using narrative ideas to learn about mental illness in the classroom

Morrison, P.ORCID: 0000-0002-3389-8393 (2010) Using narrative ideas to learn about mental illness in the classroom. Current Narratives, 2 . pp. 55-67.

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Narrative ideas provide an interesting basis for teaching health practitioners. The specific notions discussed here have been referred to as reflecting teams and as outsider-witness practices. These practices involve offering feedback in non-evaluative ways as a means of exploring new possibilities and perspectives for participants. The emphasis is on the acknowledgement and resonance that occurs when a story is told and witnessed through connecting the story with the lives of the listeners. This paper offers an example of classroom work linked to studentsʼ assignments that was designed to help general nursing students learn about people with mental health problems. The assignments focused on the media representations of people with a mental disorder. The notions of reflecting teams and outsider-witnesses were used in a classroom exercise to witness the stories described in the assignments. The primary aim was to help students to develop richer understandings of people with mental health problems that might lead to more caring ways of practising nursing. The reflecting team process helped students to go beyond the media stereotypes of mental illness and the people who suffer from it. It promoted new understandings of mental health consumers. The exercise enabled students to learn more about stigma and its undermining influence on peoplesʼ lives, to pay close attention to their own language use, and to commit to an enhanced advocate role for vulnerable groups in their care in future practice settings.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Nursing & Midwifery
Publisher: School of Journalism and Creative Writing, Faculty of Creative Arts & the Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong
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