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 website was founded by a carer in 2009. It uses a collection of stories and illustrations to explain different viewpoints, share coping strategies, support practitioners to work with families and inspire change. The project is a cost recovery social enterprise which receives no funding and relies on community support to continue. Donations are always welcome!
The project aims to answer these questions:
- How does it feel to care for a loved one with a mental illness?
- How can we support others?
- How can we care for ourselves?
- How can carers, consumers and practitioners work together as a team?
- How can we keep hope alive?
Although this website focuses on the carer experience, your voice – as a carer, consumer, practitioner or other kindred soul – is very welcome. We have a great deal to learn from each other, and this is your chance to share what helps.
Most of this site can only be seen by members – so if you want to read the “juicy bits” you will need to register and log in. Membership is free, with no catches. You just need to agree to some basic rules about respect, good manners and privacy. To find out more about membership please go to First Time Visitors.
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!
I have used your slideshow (with permission) when educating staff just recently. It is so meaningful and says so much in such a short time. To date, everyone is really impressed with the slideshow.
I think your idea for a “carer’s plan” is brilliant. As you and I know, all care plans are for the consumer – everything is focused on the consumer and carers are often overlooked. So any ideas on how to actually assist/support carers is very much welcomed. With your permission, I would like to take this idea of a carer’s plan and develop it for the Program.
And I absolutely loved the Lighthouse. I have used this to help myself. So thank you so much.
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.
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”
All OTs found this to be a very powerful and moving slideshow which they thought would be very helpful for other MH clinicians and Dr’s to see. One suggestion was to slow the slideshow down as some felt that they didn’t have enough time to read/look at the artwork.
After the in-service, everyone (there was only 4 at the in-service) was interested in going to your website and becoming a member. They also were able to identify ways that they could become more family-sensitive/inclusive in their practice. So I believe overall that your resources were really useful in hopefully making some positive changes in the way that clinicians work with and understand carers.
Thankyou for baring your soul, psyche and wounds & gifts for us all to feel more ourselves. I received this with permission from you and I have shown it now several times to our clinicians, carers, ward staff and again tomorrow to a group of clinicians doing a professional development day here at our campus.
Every time I show it (and I have watched it now myself at least 20 times) I am moved to tears along with those who watch it and, for me, that is its power – to teach through the heart. Thankyou again …really no words will ever be able to fully express the gratitude, honor and respect I have for you, your journey and this great work you created and share.
The Governance Committee of the Ballarat Health Service Mental Health Service has asked me to convey their sincere thanks to you for the presentation. The presentation provoked a lot of discussion, as a result I will be presenting the presentation to all of our teams (CAMHS, adult, aged, inpatient and residential) across the organisation.
I am looking forward to it as the message of the carer experience is so powerful. Thank you for the work you have done.”
We played a little with mapping the impact of caring, the positives and negatives – we just let the conversation that flowed after looking at your website lead the discussion and we decided to start with ‘feelings’ and impact. It was so darn awesome!!! One of our carers took the lead in the ‘mapping’ and the coloured textas – it really was one of the best sessions we have done!!!
Can’t wait for you to come and give us some art journaling workshops – are there any easy to read books that you would recommend about art journaling? Thank you so much for letting us show and use some of your work!! You certainly are making a difference in the ‘caring’ world.