Reprinted from the "Families and Crisis" issue of Visions Journal, 2017, 12 (4), p. 4
We try to cover the full spectrum at Visions: from a focus on wellness and preventing problems, to a focus on supporting recovery for ongoing, episodic concerns. It may be tempting to put some of our themes firmly in one camp or the other, but don’t be deceived. Case in point: this edition is very much a prevention issue. Although I cannot deny you will read stories of pain and distress, there is a strong theme of prevention as well because, let’s be honest, no one likes to go through a crisis; it’s traumatic and stressful. So you’ll see that the stories all talk about some aspect of what helped (or would have helped) reduce the severity of the emergency or prevent a future one. You’ll pick up some great wisdom from family and friends, from individuals experiencing a health issue who were supported by family and friends, from clinicians, and from other community partners and advocates.
The other theme that struck me was love. Profound love. (Sorry for getting mushy). I’ve worked at the Canadian Mental Health Association for a long time. I know too well the tensions between the needs and wishes of family members and the needs and wishes of people directly experiencing an illness or substance use problem. Maybe our system reinforces the tensions too much? Whatever the reason, I was expecting to receive submissions with a lot of, well, bitterness: “my family just doesn’t get it…they belittle me” or “my brother says he hates me but can’t he just see that I’m trying to help?” Not to minimize family conflicts—all families have them—but all the people who approached us to submit experiential pieces have written what are essentially love letters to their loved ones. It’s incredibly moving to read the I-love-you’s and the thank-you’s. If you are a supporter and ever feel resentful or underappreciated, read this issue. The thank-you’s are transferable. I’m going home to hug my family now.
A few closing notes:
We have two distinct guest editorials for this issue: one about families of young people and one more about families of adults.
Please enjoy the first-ever issue of Visions in full-colour! Believe it or not, it’s now less expensive to produce—and, we hope, more inviting, too.
Don’t forget to vote in our subtheme poll (see p. 30) or in the provincial election. Happy Mental Health Week!
About the author
Sarah is Visions Editor and Director of Mental Health Promotion at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division