Authors: Susan Hunt, Claire Walsh
Event: 2019 TheMHS Conference
Subject: Going from Strength 2 Strength: Parents Writing for Resilience
Type of resource: Conference Presentations and Papers
Susan is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and PhD candidate at the University of Queensland. Her research is on consumer and family participation in public mental health services. Susan has over twenty years experience in clinical, management and education roles. Her primary field of practice is mental health, alcohol and other drugs. Susan is currently employed as the Family Support Counsellor and Allied Health Lead at Clarence St, Mater Young Adult Health Centre (previously ADAWS). She provides family support, counselling, psycho-education and support on an individual and group basis for family members affected by mental health, alcohol and other drugs problems.
Claire Walsh is a senior Social Worker currently employed as the State wide Triage and Referral Coordinator at Clarence St, Mater Young Adult Health Centre (previously ADAWS). She provides counselling, psycho-education and support to young people with alcohol and other drug problems, as well as support and counselling to family members. Prior to this role, Claire worked in a hospital setting providing brief crisis interventions to individuals presenting to an emergency department which has fostered a strong interest in mental health / trauma and the impacts there of upon individuals and their families.
The Clarence Street 'Strength 2 Strength: Writing for Resilience' project was developed in February 2018 for a group of mothers affected by mental health, alcohol and other drug problems. These mothers had requested ongoing support after their participation in a six-week 'Strength 2 Strength: Growing Family Resilience' group program. It was proposed that as a group, they might like to meet and write a book about their lived experience. The purpose in writing such a book was to further grow their resilience and provide a resource to support other families in a similar situation. In a supported environment, five mothers have met regularly and shared their stories of stress, fatigue, fear, stigma and discrimination. They have also shared their stories of resilience, change and hope for the future. “The Good Mother’s Club” continues to meet, share stories and write with a view to publishing their book for other parents who ask the question “where did I go wrong?” Through writing about lived experience, this book seeks to challenge the notion of ‘bad mothers’ and blaming the family. Instead, it focuses on parents learning new skills, gaining new knowledge and growing their resilience in the interests of strengthening families.
Learning Objectives Learning Objective 1: Attendees will learn about growing resilience for family members affected by adolescent/young adult mental health, alcohol and other drug problems. They will also learn about how supporting parents in care and treatment is in the interest of the whole family. An example of partnering with parents is provided by sharing the unique experience of parents writing through the 'Strength 2 Strength: Writing for Resilience' book project.
Learning Objective 2: This topic is relevant because family members affected by mental health, alcohol and other drug problems can develop their own mental health problems due to carer burden and carer stress. Yet there are few supports available for families in these situations. Family support is much needed because family members can experience stigma and discrimination and, they are often the primary source of support for young people living with mental health, alcohol and other drug problems.
References Bland, R., Renouf, N., Tullgren, A. (2015) Social Work Practice in Mental Health. 2nd Edition. Allen & Unwin. Sydney
Orford, J., Natera, G., Velleman, R., et al (2001) Ways of coping and the health of relatives facing drug and alcohol problems in Mexico and England. Addiction, 96, 761-774.