S64: Relational Recovery: What would create an ordinary life for families and carers?

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By September 12, 2019 No Comments

Authors: Tania Curlis, Amaya Alvarez

Year: 2019

Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference

Subject: Relational Recovery: What would create an ordinary life for families and carers?

Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers



Tania Curlis has experience in human services governance, research and program design, with an interest in family centred practice and peer-led approaches. Her social work background and personal experience of family mental health issues lends a practical approach to her work with carers and consumers, and her research interests. Tania’s work as the NDIS Engagement Consultant for Tandem, the Victorian peak organisation representing mental health family and friends (carers) follows 10 years in direct practice, project work and workforce development across health and community services.

Amaya Alvarez has worked across a wide range of areas from rural sustainability to healthy ageing and peri-urban planning. Her work in applied research has always been motivated by a commitment to just social change. Amaya Alvarez is currently enrolled in a PhD in the Future Social Service Institute, RMIT University. Her project is interested in how mental health carers’ are experiencing the NDIS, in the context of their own lives and within a relational frame. Amaya is a mental health carer and her lived experience plays an important role in her research.

Mental health recovery requires a feeling of safety; a sense of a future, and a place to thrive. The NDIS concept of the ‘ordinary life’ applies for eligible consumers. Research shows that sustaining family involvement is critical to recovery outcomes for consumers. Key relational supports (carers) also need this opportunity of an ‘ordinary life’, where health systems acknowledge challenges inherent in supporting someone in their recovery. This paper will introduce with an NDIS backdrop, that the need for mental health family and friends (carers) to attain an ordinary life is little understood.

Tandem NDIS Engagement Consultant Tania Curlis works as an advocate and educator to improve outcomes for mental health families within the NDIS. Future Social Service Institute researcher Amaya Alvarez explores supports provided by mental health carers within the NDIS and impacts of the scheme on the family experience.

Drawing on lived experience, current literature and ongoing engagement with families, presenters will explore challenges for families and carers to meet their needs in their own right with supports that sustain everyone’s mental health. This paper proposes the possibility of relational supports that are meaningful to the whole family, linked to the goal of personal recovery for the consumer.

Learning Objectives
Learning Objective 1: Importance of relational resilience, and whole of family approach.
Learning Objective 2: Mental health carer supports – lived experience lessons from current practice.

Hill, T., Broady, T. (2019) Understanding the social and emotional needs of carers: Final report (SPRC Report 2/19). Sydney: Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney.

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