Am I Enough? CASA Family Advisory Council Photovoice Research Project 2020

CASA Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health, CASA Family Advisory Council (FAC) and the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary, is launching their Photovoice journey research project looking at Alberta parents’ lived experiences in the mental health system, particularly in the current COVID-19 pandemic environment.

Photovoice captures the experience of a group of people through photos and words which depict and/or represent their journey in Alberta’s mental health system. The process supports participants in making meaning of their journey and collaborating as co-researchers alongside the principal researcher, Dr. Dorothy Badry, from the University of Calgary. Dr. Badry stated that “Photovoice has been a critical method for parents of the FAC to illustrate their experiences in navigating the mental health system, particularly at the historic juncture with the COVID-19 Pandemic unfolding. No one expected a pandemic when we began this project and the drastic reduction of support services and school-based programs has created unprecedented challenges for families. The voices of this creative group of parents resonate the experiences of many families who have to navigate mental health services in this country and the challenges they face. The parents involved with CASA speak of their love, care, commitment and support of their children and demonstrate how resiliency continues to resonate as a theme in their lives.” “Accessing and navigating through our complicated system can be very trying for parents and/or caregivers of children and adolescents with mental health disorders who require specialized, multi-disciplinary care and treatment” according to Dr. Denise Milne, CEO CASA and CASA Foundation.

The objectives of this research:

• Document the experience of parents and/or caregivers accessing, navigating and participating in the child and youth mental health system;

• Promote expression so that participants can share the meaning of their experience and join together in community through shared experiences;

• Explore and develop potential areas of improvement in the areas of accessibility and service delivery;

• Inform health care, program and policy stakeholders of the challenges facing access and usage of pediatric mental health services, and;

• Develop a deeper understanding of parent experience in navigating mental health systems with and on behalf of their children.

FAC is a committee of parents/caregivers with lived experience in the child and youth mental health and youth addiction system. They provide valuable feedback to support CASA, a non-profit organization, which delivers mental health assessment, treatment and consultation services to infants, children and youth and their families, primarily in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. CASA recognizes that families are valuable advisors, providing input into program development, implementation, evaluation, policies and community initiatives. This ensures CASA services are truly family-centered and meet patient and family needs, priorities, goals and values. The Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary has provided the research expertise to ensure the research project is elevated to truly recognizing the voices of parents engaged in the mental health system.

Please see attached short video that highlights the Photovoice Research Project:

We have also attached the full length video version:

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CASA respectfully acknowledges that Alberta is located on Treaty 4, 6, 7, and 8 Territory traditional lands - a traditional gathering place for diverse Indigenous peoples, including the Cree, Blackfoot, Métis, Dene, Stoney-Nakota Sioux, Saulteaux, Siksika, the Piikuni, the Kainai, the Tsuut’ina, the Stoney-Nakoda First Nations, and many others whose histories, languages, and cultures continue to influence our vibrant community.