Family Guide to Mental Health

about us

Welcome to the Family Guide website!

Project Purpose

The World Health Organization estimates 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime. This will affect over 1 billion people worldwide and touch most of our families. When a family mental health crisis occurs, it doesn’t just affect the person stricken with a mental illness. Every family member can feel the impact. While there are resources for people with a mental illness – there is often little support for family members.

Family members can experience stress, fear, guilt, shame and anger. They can carry the burdens related to increased care-giving and the stress of watching someone they love, suffer. Mental illness in the family can disrupt relationships and peace of mind for all family members. Often the WAY families and family members cope, or fail to cope – can create difficulties that can go on for decades if not addressed.

“The Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery” is an interactive documentary project that will provide new hope, insight and guidance to the whole family, as they begin a journey of recovery.

Using peer-to-peer interviews, text resources and online community forums, we can share real life insight, guidance and experience from real families to help new families just starting their journey. The Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery is designed as a resource that can be accessed and used by each family member – so a process of enlightenment, learning, outreach and understanding can start immediately.

Project Origins and Progress to date

The Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery is the creation of Stuart Clarfield of The Mission Media Company; a film-maker and family member who wanted to mobilize the insights and experiences of families to help support other families, who are just beginning their journey facing a mental health condition.

As families, we need knowledge, insight, wisdom and support – and where better to start than other families (or parents, brothers/sisters, spouses, kids) who have been there, and can share their experiences?

We are very thankful we’ve been able to share this project with you. Getting the project funded and made was not easy. We received the help and participation of family members and film/video/interactive media craftspeople – and the result is an interactive documentary website that can provide support, information, insight, inspiration and guidance to thousands of families facing a mental health condition, locally and internationally. Many have generously contributed to make this project a reality.

To date, we have completed over 15 hours of video interviews with family members and practitioners. Families participated with the assistance of project advisors at:

• FAME – Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere
• FOR – Family Outreach and Response Program
• Sunnybrook Hospital – Mental Health Division
• Mood Disorders Association of Ontario
• Schizophrenia Society of Ontario
• CAMH – Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto

We are now building out site resources with a wide range of community and sector contributors – in Canada and around the world!

It may take a family or family members days, or decades to access information and start applying resources to begin their journey back to balance. We cannot predict when a family member begins a recovery process, but we are quite sure that UNTIL a family member starts a process of healing and recovery – the burden of a mental health crisis can continue to weigh on their lives and relationships. We would like to stop the cycle of suffering and begin a cycle of healing and support – and family peers and resources have been gathered here to assist families to start or further their journey of recovery.

This site is just beginning. We hope YOU will make your own contribution, by sharing your perspectives, your stories & your insights. That includes family members, educators, peers & practitioners. We invite you to become Members and join forums and build your profile, and share your insights.

This is the start of what we hope will become a GLOBAL FAMILY SUPPORT resource – where we can meet and learn from each other – to help the NEXT FAMILY that has to manage their journey. We want to make it easier for them. Hopefully, you can help!


The Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery was created and produced by The Mission Media Company Inc. Toronto, Canada

Our Creative & Production team is led by:

Producer/Director/Editor/Family member: Stuart Clarfield

Family interviews and our feature length documentary “The Journey Home” were produced with the support of the following key crew members:

Directors of Photography Joshua Henderson / Rich Williamson
2nd Unit Camera J. Larry Carey
Production Coordinator Megan Mucignat

The Family Guide Website was produced with the help of:

Creative Content Director Stuart Clarfield
Interactive/Web Producers Alex Shutsa, Christina Byrnes

For Vivid Design:
Art Director Duygu Basmaci
Architect & Programmer Norman Valdez

The Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery project was produced with the assistance of our healthcare organization sponsor; “FAME” (Family Association for Mental Health Everywhere).

FAME’s belief in the project, encouragement, years of patience, support and participation was one of the key reasons we stuck with it, when so many other likely supporters wouldn’t step up for us. FAME, particularly Executive Director Christine Cooper, never lost her belief in the project and what we were trying to accomplish. We greatly appreciate their support.

Along the way, there have been many others people and organizations who helped us:

Our Project Advisory Group includes:

Christine Cooper Executive Director, FAME

Karyn Baker Executive Director, FOR (Family Outreach and Response)

Dr. Maria Kokai Chief Psychologist, Toronto Catholic District School Board

Dr. Fred Harris MD, Family Therapist, Instructor, Dept. of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto

Brian MacKinnon Community Development, “Alternatives” East York Mental Health Counselling Services

Branka Agic Manager, Health Equity, CAMH

Dr. Robert Hicks Psychiatrist, in Memoriam

Karen Liberman Mental Health Advisor, Retired CEO, Mood Disorders Association of Ontario

Many generous film, design and interactive media craftspeople made this project possible. We just did not have the financial resources to fully reimburse contributors for their valued efforts. Next time someone mentions the term “starving artists” – they are often starving because they generously donate their time to subsidize important community projects, when other funders can’t be found. This is how this project was made and we deeply thank them.