September 3 – 14, 2008
Clients, Staff and Neighbours of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Having psychosis –hallucinations and delusions– often creates havoc in person’s life. The derailed thinking and behaviour that characterize psychosis, together with the stigma that accompanies mental health problems, can negatively impact one’s relationships with friends, family and colleagues.
Most painful of all, it can cause a person to lose their relationship with themselves. People with psychosis describe it as a feeling of falling apart, being annihilated, losing their identity or their sense of self.
Paradoxically, many people with psychosis also say that consistent, supportive relationships can be crucial to their recovery, enabling them to regain a sense of personhood, agency and self-esteem.
For clients on CAMH’s long stay unit, families have often been their most loyal and committed supporters throughout their lives. In the face of stigma associated with mental illness, and often without any support themselves, family members have helped their ill relatives by bringing food and clothing, asking questions on behalf of their relative, and advocating for improvements in their care.
The VIP photography project aims to celebrate the contributions of VIPs such as family, friends, workers, and pets in the lives of CAMH clients, staff and neighbours. All participants were invited to have their VIP portrait photo take by the project lead. Then they were given disposable cameras and asked to take photos of people who are important to them.
These are photos of the supportive connections that are not always acknowledged in our daily lives. Being recognized and feeling understood by others is the foundation upon which we build our sense of self–our feeling of being at home in the world.
Heather Tims, Social Worker Integrated Rehabilitation Unit, CAMH