The Caring Together Art Journal Project

Mental health carers as partners in recovery

Your feedback

This is just some of the feedback received on this project over a ten year period, both via email and comments left on the website. Even these messages show a great deal about the needs of carers and services wanting to promote family friendly practice. They, in their turn, have become a part of this ongoing story.

Comments can still be submitted. 

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

Comment received on “Testimonials” 19 June 2014

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 from carer consultant received 19 February 2013 – 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 left on “Testimonials” 3 December 2014

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 received on “Pay it forward” 20 February 2013

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

Comment left on “Testimonials” 22 April 2014

Thank you for this beautiful slideshow and putting such a supportive and useful website together I’m passing it onto everyone I can.

Comment received on “I don’t want to complain” 28 May 2012

This is a wonderful site – like no other! I am looking forward to further collaboration as I can see 100s of opportunities.

Comment received on “Testimonials” 2 August 2013

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 received on “Asking for a Plan” 12 June 2012

I just luv the art work, the words, knowing what I feel and my experiences are understood without me having to justify, qualify

Helen you have come such a long way and stayed on your feet throughout. Your attitude is extraordinary and you deserve this wonderful trip to Paris to speak on behalf of all carers and you.

Comment received on “Strength” 2 July 2012

I am wondering how the trip to Paris went? Thank you for creating this website -I intend to interact as both a person with a mental illness and as a mother and carer of children with a mental illness. I love the Vivian Greene quote and use it often to spread that little bit of happiness in our lives. Congratulations!

Comment received on “Strength” 8 August 2012

This is an amazingly fantastic resource. I will share this link with as many people as I can!  Thank-you for putting it together!!

Thank you for yet another timely and beautifully presented moment on the journey to recovery and greater understanding for all.

Comment received on “Dealing with mistakes” 31 January 2012

Helen, 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 received on complaints management video, 6 August 2013

All of your pictures are so wonderful and powerful! Will you make more of them available as posters?? We’d love some for our waiting room and drop in service (youth mental health) and for our carers/family room.

Comment received on “Printables” 24 October 2011

What a comprehensive and accessible creation.

Comment received on “Testimonials” 20 June 2012

What a wonderful experience! This story warms my heart. I do hope there is more than one such place,I have yet to come across any service that so openly includes family and friends. Though I do know of some that have a positive, looking forward, attitude for recovery.

Comment received on “The Welcome Mat” 22 May 2013

It is so wonderful to hear that you have found a place that supports the whole family in this caring way. I continue to be amazed at your positivity, hope, and of course your incredible Art work. The website is simply inspiring, and so are you. 

Comment received on “The Welcome Mat” 22 May 2013

Beautiful story. Where is this place, we need many more of them all over the country.

Comment received on “The Welcome Mat” 4 September 2013

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 returned to Sydney to be carer for my mum who had had major cancer surgery and was developing dementia – it was the dementia that got her in the end and I struggled with the caring role and being a working sole parent. Now my son has grown up and has bi-polar and has moved back home for the support, so I am a carer again… 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 received on “The Intangible Storytelling Project” 7 May 2014

I am blown away, this is the most beautiful site I have seen. I agree with the values of this site

Comment received on “Testimonials” 13 November 2013

information is how I feel

Comment received on “I don’t know what to ask” 28 January 2014

I would love you to work with the actual young people. Is this possible?

Comment received on “Art journaling workshops” 21 April 2014

Great poster, I like the clear message, it validates those who may be unsure whether they should ask for help. I love your art work Helen.

Comment received on “It takes courage to ask for help” 5 August 2015

Love the poster, I will put it up on the wall of our carers support group for all to see…It is soooo true!

Comment received on “It takes courage to ask for help” 12 August 2015

I love your project

Comment received on “Printables” 17 January 2019

Thanks so much for sharing this excellent information, especially about the ‘blank’ moments, something I feel most people have experienced with much frustration.

Comment received on “I don’t know what to ask” 17 January 2011

What is the point of trying to proportion any blame anyway , looking for who to blame . How productive is it? It’s not going to assist in the person overcoming what they are dealing with is it? Experiencing guilt also is not that useful although it seems par for the course maybe as we question ourselves along the way, Families needs encouragement to dismiss any feelings of blame and guilt they may harbour and instead be encouraged and empowered through information and support to find the strength to move forward .

Comment received on “Blame” 30 October 2010

I totally agree with you. My daughter is 28 years old and has suffered for a number of years with depression and an eating disorder. It has been extremely difficult for me as her main support person to be able to assist her because of confidentiality reasons. It would be really helpful if you were able to give advice on the steps to take to improve this situation. I appreciate that it is very important for the sufferer to still feel empowered, but there are certain times that they are unable to manage their illness and at those times, a carer/support person is needed. Good luck and I look forward to further posts! 

Comment received on “The confidentiality maze” 28 September 2010

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 received on “Art journaling in Broken Hill” 7 July 2013

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.

Via email – shared with permission

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

Comment received on “Testimonials” 21 June 2012

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.

Via email – 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.

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 Helen …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 received on “Testimonials” 8 May 2012

Finally got into the site. will have a look at all the great information and pass it on.thanks for your great effort.

Comment received on “Testimonials” 17 November 2017

What a wonderful idea to celebrate the end of your journey as a carer. I think that sometimes we can power ahead forgetting to take the time to acknowledge what has passed and just how far we have come. Your painting is full of color, light and flourish. Happy flourishing to you!

Comment received on “Ending with a Flourish” 13 January 2013

not an end but excitement, holistic, constant joy

Comment received on “Ending with a Flourish” 8 December 2013

Helen, I can’t find anywhere where I can order your wonderful poster and I would love to use it for our mandatory family sensitive training for our service

Comment received on “Carer strengths” 6 March 2013

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.

I can see my own flaws at times as a carer but I dont need old theories imposed upon me by someone that doesn’t understand our family who through perhaps laziness just blames the mother or father.

Here’s to celebrating the strengths of mental health carers

Comment received on “Carer strengths” 6 March 2013

what a wonderful idea!I must try it myself. So me time.

Comment received on “My glittering tap shoes” 9 August 2013

I will always be a holder of hope, it is in my nature to be hopeful and positive.
However being a holder of hope for someone who is not able to hold their own hope is a totally different kettle of fish. It certaily challenged my abilty to feel hopeful. At times I have let go of the hope as the burden became too heavy or I felt ready to give up. I have needed to take a break and place the hope in a safe place to pick up again when I was ready and able to do so. I always knew that the hope was still there (somewhere) just not always shining at the forefront while we dealt with reality of mental illness. I have learnt to hope for smaller things, to be realistic and grateful for what we have and for every small achievement. I HOPE for the miracle of recovery.

Comment received on “Holders of hope” 10 September 2013

beautiful, beautiful. I feel sad, happy, relieved, positive

big, big, Thankyou

Comment received on “After the rain – one carer’s recovery journey” 21 April 2014

Wow, just wow. Such a beautiful video. Thank you. Holding the Hope is something that was talked about in a meeting I went to the other day and to see it here in your video helps me more to Hold the Hope

Comment received on “After the rain – one carer’s recovery journey” 3 July 2015

it’s looking really awesome! Wish I could visit it. But am grateful for these pictures! Did you get (m)any comments from people??? (as in a guestbook kind of way??)

I’m sooo proud of you! sending my love and respect from the other side of the world!

Comment received on “Exhibition at St Vincent’s Gallery” 23 September 2014

I work at a psychiatric hospital with adolescents. I would love to have the kids make lemon books and wanted to inquire about permission to use your ideas as an example. Thanks. ????

Comment received on “The Lemon Book – a slideshow of coping strategies” 12 February 2015

I am about to retire as a health practitioner and the coordinator of a district health carers support program. I am also a practicing artist and will be maintaining my volunteer activities and involvement as a mental health carer myself. How is the project travelling? I notice that the most recent post is from 12 months ago. I would like to recommend your site to MH carers I will be having contact with in the next few weeks.

Comment received on “Testimonials” 25 June 2015

As a single parent, I find it so hard not to feel like I have done something wrong. I didn’t choose to leave my husband and have my son on my own, I didn’t choose for him to have this depression. Yet I still feel so often that it is my fault. 5 years of battling his depression on your own, with no support from his father, really gets to you after a while. But if it can happen to “normal” families too, then maybe it is not my fault. Thanks for this entry.

Comment received on “Mental illness happens in loving families too” 15 March 2011

It is so wonderful to hear another voice out there. I really hope that this site can bring people like us together, and give us all a voice. Thank you so much.

Comment received on “Mental illness happens in loving families too” 5 November 2010

It is true that you are a normal family as we are too. We have a daughter who is unwell and I say to whomever listens, that it is much easier for us to wake up each day and be able to experience life, than for our daughter who has to find the strength just to get up. She has been fighting for years, and we as a family have so much respect for her. In our experience we have found that it is often ignorance about mental health that can generate negative and judgemental comments. All we can try to do is to educate our family and friends whilst educating ourselves, and hope that in time the stigma associated with mental illness will end. Until then, we will continue to do the wonderful job that we do without guilt, but with determination and lots of love.

Comment received on “Mental illness happens in loving families too” 28 September 2010

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 received on “Testimonials” 12 September 2012

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.

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.

Thankyou for sharing your beautiful poster dedicated to all our carers.

Comment left on “Poster for Carers Week 2014” 9 October 2014

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.

Via email – shared with permission

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.

This is a wonderful slideshow. Gets the message across in a very positive way. Thank you so much for doing this.

As a Carer Consultant and carer, I provide the carers I work with a journal. Sometimes when you can’t sleep with things going around in your head and worrying about the person you care for, it helps to ‘externalise’ (get it out)how you’re feeling. If you write down somewhere exactly what it is that you are thinking or worrying about, put it beside your bed (a must)then the weight of it is lifted as if you were talking to someone. You can then pick up the thoughts the next day.

Comment received on “Finding my Mojo” 16 September 2011

Yes so right! We do need to find something to keep that spark when you feel a bit flat with worry . Burlesque life drawing– what fun. Good on you and looking forward to seeing some more work. For me it’s always a toss between jewellery or mosaic but more lately felting is creeping in thanks to being introduced to it!! Always fun to try something new. One day I plan to try leadlighting and or pottery but then again who knows something else might present itself.. keep seeking that Mojo and what a great site.

Comment received on “Finding my Mojo” 8 October 2011

You are an inspiring woman. Burlesque Life Drawing yet. If I was in Australia right now, I’d join you.

Comment received on “Finding my Mojo” 30 November 2011

It is so good to see something so positive written about CCAG’s, we hear so little of them and they achieve so much within each AMHS by dedicated consumers, carers, clinicians and management. I have the wonderful privilege of guiding such a group in a rural service over the past 11 years and I could never have asked for a more dedicated group of people than those that have sat on our CCAG. They have contributed great expertise, skill and knowledge both as individuals and as a group throughout that time and I’m sure they will continue to do so into the future. Helen, your words inspire me to continue to recruit to this group so that others may experience what you have written about, and what, I hope, our CCAG provides

Comment received on “Advisory Group” 20 February 2013

I met you yesterday at the Themhs forum in Melbourne. 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 exress 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. As a single mother of 6 I sometimes feel like there’s just not enough of me to go around especially so during those difficult times. I sometimes feel guilty that I have neglected my “well” children during times of crisis. Caring for a person with a mental illness is a very difficult job but just that little bit more difficult when you don’t have a partner. My children are that little bit older now but I still cry about those lost years and fun times I emissed out on with them. Sometimes for days on end they were left to fend for themselves while I poured all my time and energy into dealing with the child in crisis. Hopefully those days are over forever. We have managed to stay out of hospital for over 2 years now. Full recovery is a nice thought.

Comment received on “Testimonials” 21 August 2013

this mind map reflects the important messages and emotions experienced by carers and the carer support workers messages to them for self-care

Comment received on “Intangible Mindmap – carer self help” 29 November 2013

Thank you so much Michelle, you have put my feelings and experience into words! Your poem really touched me.

Comment received on “Wild lands – a poem about caring” 9 January 2014

the DVD is beautiful, sad and incredibly spot on

Comment received on complaints management video 19 February 2014

we take my daugther to emergency or we call an ambulance, Although at the begining we were given phone numbers that went round in circles or answering machines call back after 9am, We are very lucky we live 3.5km from the hospital. When we get there we wait. they are always very supportive the ed nurses, day and night I;m so thankfull someone is there,

Comment received on “Please help – crisis after hours” 22 September 2014

I agree totally

Comment received on “Poster for Carers Week 2014” 6 October 2014

Hi am very new to this site, but was really impressed with the content, great art work and exactly what I would like to do with the carers in the family services program that I work for. I am doing a presentation to carers at a retreat on the 25th May around what is Optimal Health and would love to use some material from this site.

Comment received on “Subscription confirmation” 14 May 2015

It’s a pity there isn’t more information for rural areas….Great resource to have though, I’m always stuck for words when dealing with professionals, as a carer you think you should keep quiet and not question those in charge of treatment.

Comment received on “I don’t know what to ask” 14 August 2015

Once again, great artwork with a very real message

Comment received on “Carers Week 2015 Poster” 8 October 2015

Thankyou for the free poster Helen, it will be very much admired by carers attending a special day to celebrate the awesome job we as carers do.

Comment received on “Carers Week 2015 Poster” 8 October 2015

It’s a beautiful poster and if it’s ok with you I’d like display at our MH inpatient unit in the family room and at our carers mroning tea.

Comment received on “Carers Week 2015 Poster” 8 October 2015

Absolutely beautiful, as all your work is. Thank you so much for doing what you do, and for sharing it. I’ve shared it on our mental health drug & alcohol service facebook page (you probably saw – I tagged you so you would)

Comment received on “Carers Week 2015 Poster” 14 October 2015

Yes, let those good times roll and extend out to smother us and in time hopefully fade away to something not so consuming but instead strengthen us again. We have to hang on to hope as we move through the different times that we experience through having mental health issues to manage and work through.

Comment received on “Hope” 30 October 2010

Your feelings are not unique. Thanks for sharing.

Comment received on “Taking criticism on the chin – or not” 27 September 2010

Hi am very new to this site, but was really impressed with the content, great art work and exactly what I would like to do with the carers in the family services program that I work for. I am doing a presentation to carers at a retreat and would love to use some material from this site.

Comment received on “Subscription confirmation” 14 May 2015

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