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Families affected by mental health need our help: Learn how the Family Caregiving Project is creating resources and advocating for stronger support

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In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness and 1 in 2 adults over the age of 40 has a history of mental illness. For each person, there is a family doing their best to support and care for their loved one. 

As Family Day in Ontario approaches, The Family Caregiving Project is drawing attention to the importance of providing mental health support to families as a whole. The multi-year research study led by Dean & Professor Charmaine Williams has been exploring the experiences and needs of families affected by mental illness across the province and developing resources for family caregivers and educators.  

This month, it launched a petition to urge provincial leaders to create a strategy to increase family-centered services, increase access to mental health care for families, and support equitable distribution of funding by directing targeted resources to families who care for Ontarians living with serious and persistent mental illnesses. 

“This is a critical time to make changes to address the urgent needs of families living with mental illness in Ontario,” says Williams. “All too often, the mental health care system engages with individuals and caregivers separately but has little to offer families as a whole. We need to ensure that entire family systems are supported, and that mental health services address not only a diversity of family experiences, but also the root causes of health inequities and disparities.” 

> Click here to read and sign the petition to take action to improve the lives of families affected by mental illness. 

The Family Caregiving Project also released a new Educators Guide to teach healthcare students and practitioners about issues that families caring for their members’ mental health have deemed important. The educators guide is broken down into 6 sections, representing six key themes. Each section includes short video clips from interviews with a variety of people who are part of families affected by mental illness. Accompanying each video clip are questions for discussion. The Educators Guide, available on The Family Caregiving Project’s website, is free and open to all. 

The Projects researchers and coordinators have also added some new educational materials to its resources. These include new worksheets, which can be used by any caregiving family to explore family member care needs and helpful resources, and an advocacy toolkit, for those who would like to contact their provincial government representatives directly and show their support on social media. 

Read: Rethinking family caregiving: Q&A with Charmaine Williams, director of the Family Caregiving Project 

Visit: The Family Caregiving Project’s website 

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