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?
- Where can we learn about mental illness?
- Can people recover from mental illness? What does “recovery” mean?
- 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.
Absolutely exquisite website, comprehensive, fun and such an enjoyable and provoking journey!Comment on 'Take a tour'
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!Email feedback - shared with permission
I love this website … and I haven’t even really explored it yet. As a website, its design is elegant and simple. I really look forward to “checking in” on the site from time to time. The information and messages are so beautifully presented in a colourful and uplifting environment it woos you back!!”Comment on "home" page
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.Comment on "Paying it forward"
Thoughtful and honest writing punctuated with illuminating expression. Carers count. Thank you for your personal thoughts, feelings and observations.Comment on "Take a tour"
Thank you for this beautiful slideshow and putting such a supportive and useful website together I’m passing it onto everyone I can.Comment on "Slideshow"
This is a wonderful site – like no other! I am looking forward to further collaboration as I can see 100s of opportunities.Comment on "Take a Tour"
I found out about your site yesterday and was privileged to watch the slide show. It was inspirational, emotional and triggered many ideas to improve my contact. Thank-you for sharing and allowing me to learn.Comment on "Conversation Starters"
Good morning. I am so blown away by your beautiful art work and thoughts. I too am a carer. At present I am working as a Project Coordinator of a Program in NSW Mental Health which promotes carer participation; the development of strategies, resources etc and educating mental health clinicians regarding issues for carers and to ensure they are included in all aspects of the consumer’s journey.
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.Comment on "Asking for a Plan"
I just luv the art work, the words, knowing what I feel and my experiences are understood without me having to justify, qualify”Comment on "Helen's Art"
This is an amazingly fantastic resource. I will share this link with as many people as I can! Thank-you for putting it together!!Comment on "Slideshow"
Thank you for yet another timely and beautifully presented moment on the journey to recovery and greater understanding for all.Comment on "Dealing with Mistakes"
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.Comment on "Feedback Slideshow"
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
Meaningful and beautiful work – as a worker I continue to be in awe of and inspired by the stories, creativity, strengths and determination of all carers …. Thank you for sharing your stories. They are such powerful tools and together I hope we can continue to advocate for inclusion and participation not only within services but across all of our communities.Comment on "Art journaling in Broken Hill"
Thankyou for sharing your wonderful art work – it gives such a strong message on the impact for carers in mental illness and is also very beautiful and warm and positive. We would like to get in touch with you further in the near future about being able to use some of your art if you will allow us in order to help with our training for clinicians on family collaborative work.Email feedback - shared with permission
“This is amazing! Congratulations – what a wonderful way to connect carers and clinicians together. Thank you!Comment on "Take a tour"
Just wanted to give you some feedback regarding the in-service I ran on the ‘carer perspective’ last week where I utilised your slideshow and conversation starters (blame & too embarrassed to ask). Firstly, the slideshow got a very positive response.
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.Email feedback - shared with permission
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.Comment on "Ending with a flourish"
While we do not know each other personally I feel I certainly ‘get your world’ as a carer for my elderly mother with dementia…whilst the ages might be different, the symptoms and impacts so much of your extraordinary journey moves me so very much.
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.Comment on "Testimonials"
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.Comment on "Testimonials"
We presented the ‘complaints presentation’ to the Governance Committee of the Ballarat Health Service Mental Health Service yesterday. The Committee were very impressed by the presentation and the message that it conveyed.
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.”Email feedback from Family/Carer Consultant, Ballarat Health Services Psychiatric Services - shared with permission
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.Comment on "Testimonials"
Helen, another piece of beautiful art. I can appreciate every single word in your commentary and did lots of ‘yes’ ‘yes’ out loud as I read through your thoughts.Comment on "Carer Strengths - 280 and counting"
The “Intangible – Insights and Inspirations” was the first thing I have looked at on the caringtogether website. I have been truely moved – partly because I lived in Broken Hill for a while so I related strongly to the images. But mostly I was affected by the shared comments about caring … I will be letting my own carer “clients” and other carer support people and organisations know about this wonderful project – and the whole website. We need inspiration just to gather the strength to keep on caring…. Thanks for sharing you thoughts and photos.Comment on "Intangible Storytelling Project"
Very powerful slideshow, images are incredible and it comes from the heart of a thoughtful caring person. Great resource for use with carers and also health professionals.Comment on "Slideshow"
Thankyou for sharing your beautiful poster dedicated to all our carers..Comment on "Poster for Carers Week 2014"
Thanks so much for sharing this excellent information, especially about the ‘blank’ moments, something I feel most people have experienced with much frustration.Comment on "I don't know what to ask"
This mind map reflects the important messages and emotions experienced by carers and the carer support workers messages to them for self-careComment on " Intangible Mindmap"
Used your powerpoint today – it worked fabulously and I let the carers see your website tour as well! They thought it was beautiful and thought provoking and very moving!! So so many comments and such an amazing discussion forum – we ran out of time and everyone wants more …
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.Email feedback - shared with permission
This is a wonderful slideshow. Gets the message across in a very positive way. Thank you so much for doing this.Comment on "Slideshow"