Lived Expertise as Evidence - Bridging the Gap through Knowledge Equity


Right now we know specific challenges exist in the youth mental health and substance use sector around the knowledge to practice gaps, the current value attributed to certina knowledge and evidence over others and the limited engagement of lived experts in system and service design. Lived expertise is critical to a system that can meet the needs of youth and caregivers adequately. This session will focus on the work that Frayme has engaged in dismantling and re-establishing systems of service through knowledge equity and knowledge mobilization. Frayme is bringing best evidence and knowledge to those who are working in communities and networks to ensure better mental health and substance use outcomes for youth and caregivers. Frayme is unique in identifying lived expertise, scientific and research expertise and service provision expertise as all critical elements to developing knowledge that should inform system design and delivery.


Shauna MacEachern
Shauna (she/her) is a system change professional who takes great joy in diving into complex and head-scratching transformative efforts. Driven by a commitment to social justice and deconstructing inequitable systems of service Shauna firmly believes in a human-centred approach to her work. Having worked to enhance outcomes for children, youth and their families in the Mental Health and Substance use system for over 15 years Shauna believes that working together at community,provincial/territorial,and national levels is instrumental in eliminating fragmentation. Through her own journey with mental health challenges and supporting those she cares about Shauna knows the benefit of designing solutions with those who use service. When Shauna isn’t working with the fantastic #FraymeFam and all their great partners she is dabbling in community theatre and watching birds. Shauna has three awesome mini humans and is a sometimes soccer coach and all-time Greek mythology fan.

Key takeaways

  • There is a 15-17 year knowledge to practice gap of what we know works and when it’s being applied
    • The information used to design programs is not the most updated of what could be used because of this time delay
  • The value of knowledge takes a colonial approach in favouring academia rather than lived experience as expertise despite a majority of knowledge historically being passed on through storytelling
  • 4 key points in the knowledge to practice gap in relation to knowledge equity
    • Identifying best available evidence and knowledge
      • Asking questions about what we determine knowledge and evidence, the information we’re seeking out, and why are we seeking out that information
      • Ensuring we’re taking a holistic approach to informing an issue
    • Curating new and equity-based evidence and knowledge
      • Amplifying perspective of knowledge holders rather than appropriating it
    • Building capacity to know how to put evidence and knowledge into practice
      • Introducing new worldviews through coaching, mentorship, and time to explain the what and why of new evidence
    • Sustaining the impact of the evidence and knowledge over time
      • Behaviour change on an individual level, organization level, and community level to avoid falling back into old habits
      • Can help be sustained through committing to mentorship, training, and capacity development
  • Knowledge equity used in the form of triangulating knowledge to address a solution to a problem using lived expertise, scientific knowledge, and research expertise 
  • “Lived experience is expertise”

Key Learning Objectives (defined by presenters)

  1. The knowledge to practice gap
  2. The current value attributed to certain knowledge and evidence over others
  3. The limited engagement of lived experts in system and service design

Key Themes

  1. Knowledge equity
  2. System transformation 

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