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The Caring Together Art Journal Project

Mental health carers as partners in recovery

Mental illness does not play fair. It sucks hope out of the air and turns people against each other. It attacks everyone who might be able to take its power away – consumers, carers, families, friends and practitioners too.

Mental illness is felt by all of us, and the only way we can beat it is together.  We need to strengthen and support one other and work together as partners in recovery. We all need to care for ourselves as well as others – and most of all we need to create an environment where hope thrives.

This project aimed to answer these questions:

  • How does it feel to care for a loved one experiencing mental health challenges?
  • How can we support our loved ones?
  • How can we care for ourselves?
  • How can carers, consumers and practitioners work together as a team?
  • How can we keep hope alive?

This website was founded by a family caregiver in 2009. Over the following decade families, carers, friends and other support people contributed over 120 stories and illustrations promoting family friendly practice and advocating for mental health carers. The project shared coping strategies, explained different points of view, educated clinicians on how to work with families, shared reputable information on mental health and aimed to inspire change.

As funded organisations are now taking on this challenge, from 2020 this website is gradually shifting to an archival stage, where resources that are out of date, no longer relevant or unsuitable for open access will be removed. Stories will only be shared with refreshed permission from the authors, and will be released over 2020 and 2021 as permission is received. 

The key stories, illustrations and videos that remain will be made available without the need to login.

Such a refreshing site to bring hope to carers in a sensitive and meaningful way. The illustrations are wonderful and the thoughtfulness given to developing one’s understanding of the caring journey is outstanding. Thank you for providing such an insightful approach to the caring role. You have given hope to encourage and strengthen one’s caring for another on a new level. One has a way out of the ‘maze of uncertainty’ in appreciating the depth of feeling that can overwhelm one when trying to make sense of things.

Absolutely exquisite website, comprehensive, fun and such an enjoyable and provoking journey!

Over the past couple of years I have continually returned to the website as it’s one of the most useful and inspirational working tools that is available online. I often facilitate staff training and include a copy of your flyer in all staff education resource packs. I hope this has steered a flood of new users to your website 🙂

I can’t speak highly enough of what you’ve achieved through this website and encourage all staff to have a look for themselves and also refer carers too!

As someone who works with young carers, I see a lot of beauty in your work and so do they. I share some of the pictures with them as they are extremely honest and affirming. There is a lot of strength gained by caring and it’s lovely to use art to help the kids realise their own strengths.

Sharing stories to draw carers and clinicians together …. A standout paper I attended at the conference was the joint presentation by representatives from the Intangible Storytelling and the Caring Together Art Journal Projects.

The aims of these projects are to ‘enable carer voices to be heard, use them to educate and inform services, support other carers so they feel less alone, and allow these experiences to be seen and discussed in a wider context.

Carers Voice (Carers ACT) e-bulletin

Review: If there is only one website you view this year – this should be the one.

The Caring Together Art Journal Project is not only packed full of information but visually takes you on a colourful, thought provoking and moving journey.  Art journals and mindmaps are the inspiration for this site. The website aims to share the carer viewpoint in a creative and personal way, with the hope that this will be a springboard to discussion between carers and clinicians, encouraging the sharing of ideas.

Trying to summarise this website into one paragraph just can’t be done … please take the time to have a look at it. If you don’t have access to a computer, remember there are computers available at your local library or contact the F&CMHP team in your area.

To Helen Wilding, the creator, artist, mother, carer (the list goes on) – you are inspirational. Thank you for sharing your journey, expertise, wisdom and talent. A Gandhi quote comes to mind “we must become the change we want to see in the world”

Family & Carer Mental Health Program Newsletter, Far West & Western Local Health Districts, NSW

I love your website. It is so inspiring and has so many positive articles on it. So many real life stories that I as a carer can relate to. Your drawings express many of my feelings as I worked my way through the mental health maze. Some made me smile while others made me cry. I have been a carer for 8 years.

I just watched your full length slideshow and I felt you were writing the experience through my own lived experience except my experience was with my daughter, bless you in the work you are doing to make sure the voice and experiences of carers is heard.

“This is amazing! Congratulations – what a wonderful way to connect carers and clinicians together. Thank you!

I find this very inspiring. I’m trying to come to terms with letting go of my daily caring role and starting to find me again. Hearing your story gives me hope that my family and I will get through these changes and find new ways to flourish too.

Thoughtful and honest writing punctuated with illuminating expression. Carers count. Thank you for your personal thoughts, feelings and observations.