I think you have to be very, very careful with self-disclosure. You can advocate for mental health and work towards decreasing stigma without self-disclosing to patients. There are lots of pitfalls in disclosing and I have rarely seen it go well in my 15 years of psych nursing. It is quite a skill and a challenge to ensure the disclosure is therapeutic. Some of the possible pitfalls are...
- patient feels unheard or invalidated, sees disclosure as you shifting the focus to being about yourself.
- patient had an emotional response to your disclosure and it impacts their mental health - for example they are worried about you, upset by what you said
- patient feels the need to support you, or wants to support you, or thinks you want their support
- patient doesn't want to bother you with more of their problems / emotions because they now see you as someone who already has enough on their plate and they don't want to burden you further.
- patient misinterprets your self-disclosure and the reasons for it (why are they telling me this?), impacts the therapeutic relationship and leads to boundary violations.
- patient now wants more detail, wants to know more, asks you about personal events in your life now that you 'opened the door'. Feels hurt if you then pull back after some disclosure.
- focus of conversation shifts to you or to you trying to get focus off of yourself
-patent does not react or respond to your disclosure as expected. Doesn't find it helpful, it doesn't give them hope, they can't relate as you though they might - again shifts dynamic of therapeutic relationship, nurse can feel hurt or rejected
-patient under no obligation to maintain confidentiality of what you tell them. They share it with other patients, families, team members and information gets modified as it moves around. You no longer have any control of the information you put out there
-the reality that the message sent (intentions) is often not the message received (outcomes)
Perhaps in a setting where you have a long term relationship with pretty stable clients, it could be beneficial but in acute care or with clients already emotionally vulnerable, it is a bit of a minefield.
I still think you can use personal experience extensively in psych without self disclosure. Use a third party - "a friend", "another patient I worked with", "something I have seen is..." Basically sure your experience and what worked without directly connecting it to you.