The Caring Together Art Journal Project

Mental health carers as partners in recovery

Conferences and presentations

26th Annual TheMHS Conference, Auckland, 23-26 August 2016

‘Celebrating those who care – artwork from the Caring Together Art Journal Project ‘ (eposter)

Author: Helen Wilding


The Caring Together Art Journal Project ( is a cost recovery social enterprise founded 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 aims to answer these questions: How does it feel to care for a loved one with a mental illness? How can we support others while also caring for ourselves? Where can we learn about mental illness? What does recovery mean? How can carers, consumers and practitioners work together as a team? How can we keep hope alive?

This poster will share some of the artwork from the Project with the aim of celebrating carer strengths and experiences in a positive and uplifting way.

It will also highlight free resources from the Project which promote positive attitudes towards service users and their supporters.

The eposter:

The poster comprises 8 slides designed for an upright interactive kiosk. This is what they look like:

Bouverie Centre - 12th Annual Mental Health Mini Conference - 14 October 2014
‘Resilience, Relationships & Recovery: A Trialogue’

Helen represented the carer viewpoint in the trialogue with mental health consumers and practitioners.

Bouverie Centre - Family Recovery Forum, 21 May 2014
Helen was one of four presenters speaking about family and carer recovery.

It was the first outing for the video “After the rain comes the rainbow – a story of caring, recovery and strength

Mind Australia Community Conference - 29 April 2014
Helen Wilding with Andrew Shakespeare (Mind Australia).

30 minute presentation on family and carer inclusion in care – how it can work and why it really matters.

Included the new paper doll video – “Why should carers be included in care?

World Hearing Voices Congress, Melbourne, 20-22 November 2013
Voices Vic approached Helen to speak at this conference – and it was a real honour to present at such an inclusive and welcoming consumer run event. Helen gave a 30 minute presentation about the Caring Together Art Journal Project, and some of her prints were also on display.
23rd Annual TheMHS Conference, Melbourne, 21-23 August 2013
Thursday 22 August 2013, 3.30pm

Helen Wilding (Caring Together Art Journal Project) with Tanya Clifton (Family & Carer Mental Health Program, Far West Local Health District, NSW)

Sharing stories to draw carers and clinicians together – Intangible and the Caring Together Art Journal Project (20 min paper)

From the abstract: “Two innovative training resources for clinicians working with families and carers come together to share the lived experience of caring through storytelling, artwork and multimedia. Intangible from the Far West of NSW, and the Caring Together Art Journal Project (, from Victoria, collaborate to show that the caring experience is universal, whether you are a parent with a child at an inner city CAMHS, or caring for a much loved adult in remote Australia.

Together, these richly creative projects enable a wide variety of carer voices to be heard in a way that is both personal and compelling, yet at the same time less confronting in its universality. Individual stories come together to create a bigger picture, with the aim of inspiring conversation between carers and clinicians, and finding ways to overcome barriers to working together as partners in care.”

E-poster presentation with Mind Australia – throughout conference

Andrew Shakespeare (Mind Australia) with Helen Wilding (Caring Together Art Journal Project)

Family & Carer Inclusion: How communication and collaboration can make a genuine difference

Exhibition of original artwork by Helen Wilding – throughout conference

Fifteen pieces of Helen’s original artwork were on display alongside the Cunningham Dax exhibition for the four days.

“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.’ [Report on TheMHS Conference 2013 as published in Carers Voice (Carers ACT) e-bulletin 19 September 2013]

TheMHS 2013 Family and Carer Forum, 20 August 2013
The Victorian Carers Network approached Helen to speak at the TheMHS Carer/Family Forum, and from that point she became involved in a number of other presentations over the four days, including an exhibition of her original artwork.

Tuesday 20 August 2013 –– 10.45 am – What defines wellbeing?

Panel with Rod Quantock (comedian), Jack Heath (SANE Australia), Anthony Joseph (Tibetan Buddhist Society) and Helen Wilding (artist and carer)

Tuesday 20 August 2013 – 1.45 pm – The Caring Together Art Journal Project

40 minute presentation by Helen Wilding (Caring Together Art Journal Project) with Lynne Ruggiero (Austin Health)

Abstract: Caring for someone with a mental illness can be an exhausting, confusing and overwhelming experience – but one that truly is a labour of love. It is a difficult thing to talk about – even to friends and family. It can make you feel out of your depth and terribly lost and alone. As a carer, Helen coped by unloading her emotions into her drawings and stories. It made her feel better, and she thought that acknowledging those experiences out loud might help others too. And so the Caring Together Art Journal Project was born – a website full of illustrated stories about both the tough times and the good times – a place to share ideas, inspiration and hope, and discover ways to cope. Through a shared understanding of the carer experience it has also become the perfect place to start a conversation with mental health services – a conversation of mutual respect and partnership. Helen and Lynne look forward to introducing you to the project, showing you all sorts of ways to use it, and hopefully inspire you to contribute something yourself.

Broken Hill, NSW - April 2013 - Family & Carer Mental Health Program, Far West Local Health District, NSW

Helen spent three action packed days in Broken Hill, including:

  • an hour and a half presentation to clinicians where the No Blame Campaign was launched (amongst lots of other conversation)
  • morning tea with carers at CAMHS

Thanks to Tanya, Sophie and the rest of the team for making Helen feel so incredibly welcome during her visit. The entire trip was a real pleasure – from the personal tour of the mental health service, treats at CAMHS, feeding the joeys and baby pig (!!), meeting such an inspiring group of carers, and sunset at Junction Mine.

International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) 20th World Congress, Paris - July 2012
Helen Wilding (Caring Together Art Journal Project), Lynne Ruggiero (Austin Health) and Anne Casey (Alfred Health)

Integrating Family Perspectives into Clinical Practice (workshop presentation)

Using Helen’s slideshow “I don’t want to complain”, mindmaps and other artwork, the presenters aimed to shed light on the many reasons why communication between clinicians and families/carers might be difficult – and brainstormed how to overcome those barriers to work together successfully.

Southern Synergy Conference for Social Workers, Monash, November 2011
Helen Wilding (Caring Together Art Journal Project) and Lynne Ruggiero (Austin Health) were invited to present to a large group of mental health social workers. The Conference was arranged by the South Eastern Cluster of Social Workers in Mental Health on the topic of “Family Business or Risky Business? Social Work and Family Inclusive Practice”.

The presentation began with the slideshow, “I don’t want to complain”, and introduced the Caring Together Art Journal Project and its beginnings. It shared insights into the lived experience of carers and discussed communication issues, based on the Conversation Starter “I don’t know what to ask”. Helen and Lynne were made very welcome by a group of obviously open minded clinicians keen to hear the family point of view.

21st Annual TheMHS Conference, Adelaide - September 2011
Helen Wilding (Caring Together Art Journal Project), Lynne Ruggiero (Austin Health) and Peter McKenzie (Carer Academic, Bouverie Centre)

The Caring Together Art Journal Project – using art and narratives to enable partnership between carers and clinicians (20 min paper)

From the abstract: “An innovative new training resource for mental health clinicians working with families and carers, the Caring Together Art Journal Project presents the carer journey through CAMHS using art journals, mind maps and narratives. Currently available online through, this is a family directed project promoting carer participation and collaboration with clinicians. Participants will join the author on a visual journey from initial feelings of confusion and frustration to ones of acceptance, empowerment and partnership. Discussion with a carer consultant will highlight the ways in which this resource can be used for training, orientation and working towards a culture of mutual respect and understanding where clinicians and carers can work effectively together.”

The full paper (with illustrations) was published in the TheMHS 2011 Book of Proceedings.