Family Guide to Mental Health

Families helping families,
by sharing our journeys!
Forums Video & Topic Discussions World-wide FORUM comments on Family Guide from COURSERA.

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    Stuart C

    In 2013, Professor Charmaine Williams, PhD from the University of Toronto used Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery video clips to illustrate key concepts in the Family Mental Health experience. We were very pleased to work with her – particularly as there would be approximately 6000 students from over 30 universities, in over 60 countries around the world. Our only condition was – ASK THEM WHAT THEY THINK ABOUT The FAMILY GUIDE!

    Well she created a forum where students could share their reactions and thoughts. We cut and pasted those comments in 40+ pages of comments from all over Canada, the US, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. It was awesome.

    Here is a short summary of some of those comments. SHARE YOURS!

    Sample comments from online course forum on Family Guide:

    Jenna D. Edinburgh, United Kingdom
    I came to the United Kingdom from Canada to study at the University of Edinburgh.
    Watching these videos brought tears to my eyes, and I really found myself wishing that these had been available as resources for my family when I was battling depression and an eating disorder as a teenager. So much of what is said in these videos coincides with what I think my family was going through throughout this difficult time in my life. The support, unconditional love & care, and respect I received from my family was absolutely invaluable to my recovery process. It makes me sad however as I can recognise how difficult it must have been for my parents and my younger brother.
    My mom recently disclosed that she suffered depression and anxiety throughout this time and she believes it was a direct result of the blame she placed on herself, and my dad, as primary caregivers in our family. She told me that she spent years trying to source where they may have gone wrong, or contributed to my difficulties. I believe that my parents carried this blame and burden until they were able to open up and discuss our family’s difficulties with others. Finding support and validation from others, and hearing about other families’ difficulties facilitated their shift in perception and their capacity to see that it was not their fault, and that their unrelenting support, love, and care for me carried us, and myself, through this difficult time. My parents can now see that this brought us, as a family, to a place of stability, well-being, health, and strengthened connection.

    I know in my heart that these videos will prove to be invaluable to other families and individuals who are currently struggling with mental illness.

    Anna S.
    I have tried to give unconditional love and over and over I feel that it is only temporary. No one can ever truly expect to receive unconditional anything especially love since it is subjective to individuals. My son take for example, says I don’t care, I don’t love enough, I don’t everything; understand, respect, individualize, acknowledge him as a person. And yet at every turn I am in hospitals, therapy sessions, medical consultations, and reading anything that will help me to understand and deal with my own emotions of insecurity that prevail my every thought. I have moved, spent fortunes, am in total financial debt, am socially ostracized by ppl who say they understand, but who won’t invite us over. I try to understand that grief is only the first step in realizing that things hoped for and lost cannot be relived, but accepted. When i say take your meds and i get non-compliance i am no longer in the unconditional status, i am now a tyrant, dictator according to him. While i love him unconditionally at times i cannot however sit here and type that i love him always. I myself have mental health issues and trying to formulate my own issues with the issues of my son strangles my mind, takes me to tears, and finds me suicidal at times. How can you say there is unconditional anything if there is still so much fear, and unjust stigma assoc with mental illness? You can’t…you can only try for, and hope to hit the mark… i myself have fallen short many times and many times i find myself asking “Who loves me unconditionally enough to help when i need it?……

    Judith Ann – Kibbutz Gezer, Israel

    Unconditional love Is something we are suppose to have for our families. especially our kids. It’s really hard sometimes. The last three weeks I have been running back and forth to the hospital to visit my daughter. At times I feel that she is using me, that she just wants to use my phone. At other times I think she is really glad to see me..I have no family in this country and my husband and my other daughter have a hard time getting to the hospital. I visit her just about everyday, but it is hard. I get resentful, and angry, and all those things they talk about in section 5. I guess if we knew for sure that all this would really help, we would feel a lot better. Yes, she will be alright. In truth we don’t know what, or if anything will help. So we give them our love.

    Judith Ann – Kibbutz Gezer, Israel

    I know I have gotten a lot of insight from reading other people’s comments, and it has really helped me with my day to day struggle. If anyone is interested we can stay in touch by e-mail, and learn from each other about different treatments and side effects from medication. Not just what is written on the net. My daughter said to me yesterday, mom this is not fair. Why do I have Schizophrenia? Answer: Baby you were born that way. It just only started to show up when you were 18. Be thankful-you that you are not a refuge in Uganda and that you have access to doctors, a psychologist and a loving supporting family. Even though you don’t think you have anything, you have a lot more support than a lot of people. One day at a time! Good luck to all of us.

    Keven Mosley-K

    In this course, and in my work as a public health professional, there is extensive effort to collect data around differences between groups and health indicators including but not limited to: income, race, ethnicity, geography, religious persuasion, gender, age, education level, military status…the list goes on and on. but the focus is always on trying to describe and quantify differences. Rarely, do we see the same research conducted on similarities among groups and health indicators. Individuals, though different in many ways, have much more in common at a deeper and perhaps more important level and include having: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for. When we look beyond the % of melanin in a person’s skin, when we look beyond their level of education, when we look beyond the practices of a given culture, we find that we are all the same in wanting those three things, and if present, go an extremely long way in promoting healthy outcomes. That is why I liked the piece revealing the re-balancing of health he had found through the love and care expressed from others. Can we forget about constantly trying to quantify and qualify how we are all so different and start focusing on how we are all the same for once?

    Joseph A (Student)
    The first video we saw from Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery, the only one that I felt was truly helpful and even moving, presented the challenge of unconditional acceptance. This is the fruit of unconditional love that can be a most challenging choice leading to mental health and healing. As mental illness was present in my family for years, I have seen the way my siblings chose not to be accepting of the one among us who struggled with illness. Yet I cannot claim for a moment that they lacked unconditional love. Perhaps ignorance (not meant in a derogatory way) may have contributed to fear and self-protection and kept them at a distance. Just some thoughts. Can you unconditionally accept them? 馃槈

    Anisa M (Student) 路 22 hours ago
    I believe The Family Guide To Mental Health Recovery is extremely helpful and beneficial to those family members with loved one鈥檚 suffering from Mental illness. It allows families to know that they鈥檙e not alone in this and that many more families go through many of the same difficulties. The Family Guide To Mental Health Recovery is a resource for family members and helps family members start their journey of healing.

    Delfina 路 3 hours ago
    Prilep, Municipality of Prilep, Macedonia (FYROM)

    Also encourages people not to be afraid to fight against the illness, because they are not the only family with that type of problem. These videos can be a great help for family members, they can learn how to cope with the illness from the people who experienced those problems and people who overcome the difficulties and the illness in their families.

    Ing奴na K 路 36 minutes ago 26 year old female Latvia

    No matter how stupid it is, but people are easier to recognize and deal with a painful question, if you know that someone else also has a similar problem or situation. I think these videos are very helpful to familiarize yourself with other people’s thoughts and experiences.

    Finally a documentary worth watching 馃檪

    Shadia K 路 5 hours ago Mississauga, ON, Canada

    Feedback regarding the Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery interviews: – the topics that were mentioned really needed to be heard, therefore it was well planned in terms of how to reach the public to educate them on topics of mental health and illnesses – it made the idea of mental illness seem ok since people were discussing their own experiences; more people can relate when they see this – good use of diverse people to really reflect the population in Toronto

    Family Guide film resembles NAMI
    Milo M T 路 41 minutes ago Absecon, NJ

    Watching the film, I was very pleased at the messages, the approaches to family life, the issues families needed to contend with when they鈥檙e loved one is facing mental illness. Each of the interviewees had appeared to realize the difference in their whole perspective when meeting and sharing with other families who had the same experiences as they did, trying to deal with someone in their family who had mental illness.

    However, as I was watching each of these videos, it dawned on me — is this film the first attempt to bring about structured support groups, as a means to identify with family caregivers of mentally ill loved ones, in Canada?

    Here in the U.S., this approach to family involvement in mental illness is over 30 years old, and it stresses everything that is mentioned in the film, plus more. I should know because I have been an active member of this organization for nearly 10 years now, the group known as NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which was first started with the help of family members of the mentally ill in 1979. In addition to having family support groups, there are support groups for mental health consumers themselves (which I run every month), educational campaigns for families, consumers, schools, law enforcement, and the public at large (where I am a presenter), advocacy programs, etc.

    I would like to know if there were other campaigns previous to this project, which had the means of getting families together with other families, to express their feelings of hopelessness, sorrow, neediness, etc., so as to realize that 1) there are others in the same boat as them, and 2) that it is not their fault that their son/daughter is ill. I would be very surprised if this is the first time such a project has been proposed, and that these ideas are coming out just now on a widespread scale. Does it have something to do with the public at large not knowing that these resources exist in the first place? Or has it taken longer for certain geographic areas to change their attitudes on the roles of families when referring to the mentally ill?

    The Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery interview videos do have some unique features, though. The “Simply Divas” video is very inspirational, for it shows that those that aspire to be successful in music or theater can accomplish their goals and overcome mental illness, both with themselves, and with their audience. NAMI has something similar to this called “Music for the Mind”, where accomplished artists, like jazz singer Joyce Cooling, would sell tickets for proceeds, to be given to the local NAMI chapter where she is performing on her tour. Programs like these are very helpful for enrichment and encouragement to show that any goal is attainable despite mental illness as a consumer or family member.

    Shawna K (Student) 路 6 hours ago
    These videos were great about shedding insight on the familial aspect of mental health and illness. I particularly like the fact of the one video that talked about having one person in your family with the solid foundation, where the person experiencing mental illness can rely on them, and ping off of that foundation to rise to recovery. That really means a lot. People with mental illness need a person/persons with a solid foundation to rely on/talk to, to help with recovery. I also liked the video where the social worker said that ultimately, the person with the mental illness is responsbile for their recovery. That rings true.

    鈥↖ do have a question and would like input from others. It was brought up a lot during this weeks lecture about stigma or shame amongst caregivers. Does anyone have experience with that? I would like to hear different cultural aspects on a caregiver鈥檚 role or even the person that has the mental illness, on the stigma or shame within mental illnesses. Please??

    These videos made me reflect on my own experience of mental illness and the impact it had on my family

    Donald David T, Jr. 路 1 day ago
    Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    Kathleen J (Student) 路 1 day ago
    Jenna, thank you for sharing your personal situation. I too had a lot of mixed feelings reading the reference material this week. I really enjoyed the family interviews and this project will no doubt prove to serve as an invaluable resource for patients, families and caregivers alike. I especially enjoyed the excerpt from the young lady that put a positive and insightful view on mental illness. We need to look at it differently and share and celebrate the strengths that people with these illnesses have!

    Amy L路 15 hours ago USA North Carolina
    I thought the video excerpts were very interesting. I could not help but feel a slight feeling of guilt listening to family members share. I have suffered from depression most of my life, which has caused my family a lot worry and concern. I believe the social worker said it best in the second to the last video. We are all responsible for our own recovery.

    Lisa L 路 14 hours ago
    The last video hit home for me. It was very informative, I too have suffered with depression most of my life and i grew up in a family where I was the only girl and have 5 brothers. I took the concept of stigmas a step further and not only did I not tell people about it, to this day my brothers know very little about what I have been through and don’t know the extent of my depression. They think “I just have bad days.” I wonder how many other people if any have done this even within their own immediate families. It was very helpful to know that it helps others to find out you have experiences with mental health.

    THERE IS MUCH MUCH MORE, but maybe we’ll share it later!
    Please add your comments to the FORUM on the VIDEOS & TEXT INFO.
    Or start your own!

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