Trav Johnson tells us about the project …

Why am I doing this?

One school drop-off in 2014 changed my life.  

In the midst of me being busy launching a new non-profit organisation, my 17 year old asks me to take him to hospital.  

A friend had gone with him to a GP visit the day before, and the doctor gave him a referral to see the psychiatrist in the public health system.

This is when I began to take mental ill-health seriously.  No longer someone else’s experience, but ours.  Since that time, our household’s schedule has included mental health strategies and appointments of one description or another for three of our four now-adult children.

Ours is an imperfect story of flourishing and failure all mixed together, but as I look back I’m grateful to have stayed the course thus far, and have much to be thankful for.  

But as I reflect on my interactions with my son in his social anxiety; and my daughter in her experiences of exclusion; and my youngest son’s grief after the loss of a close friend to suicide — I recognise the moments where I barely had enough.

My compassion vocabulary needed to expand.  

My emotional capacity needed to deepen.  

But I was stuck. I was stuck in a loop of fear and dread over my child’s experience of mental ill-health.

I was stuck in a job which I thought might disappear if the challenges we were facing came to light.

I was stuck in a community which I feared would reject us when our story was told.

Getting unstuck doesn’t begin with quick fixes and big changes, it starts with making space for me to take small steps.

Trusting that over time I can build a life of resolute love.

In order for my people to experience the care they need from me, I need to re-imagine what love looks like — again, and again.  

The long road of Resolute Love is not an easy one, but I’m anticipating this project can provide space for increase in our capacity to love our people in all things.

Who is the project for?

Parents who are feeling ‘stuck.’

It might be that you’re seeing signs of mental ill-health in your young person and you’re not sure how to respond.

Or your young person has had an initial interaction with the health system and you’re in a holding pattern while you wait for the support they need.

Perhaps you have a long story of caring for your young person and wonder how long you can keep going. Or you might be a little further from the action but you’d like to build your own awareness of what healthy household support can look like.

Whatever the case, you feel a bit stuck.  

My hope is that the Resolute Love project can help you move in the direction of becoming ‘unstuck’.

Who do I think I am?

I’m confident this project will be super-helpful for you in your care for others, but my confidence comes with a disclaimer.

When it comes to expertise in mental health, my 30+ years of experience in Christian work has barely scratched the surface!

And my Bachelor of Ministries and Graduate Certificate in Mental Health have helped me see how much I don’t know!

Having enjoyed serving at a variety of church and faith-based agencies, I’d have to say the best environment for learning is in the lived experience of navigating family life.

And as a household carer, I’m learning that a big part of the process of ‘Resolute Love’ is being able to live with uncertainty (hence the disclaimer!)

What am I hoping to achieve?

This is a quest to discover more of what a RESOLUTE LOVE looks like for the young people in our households.

In order to see this, I’m seeking to ‘hold space’ for people like you and I — household carers supporting young people in their mental health struggles.

I’m looking to move toward this purpose through:

BUILDING our CAPACITY through lived experience learning and support.  

In order to accomplish this, I’m currently delivering a workshop on communicating with young people, and developing some ideas around providing ‘carer peer support’.

Where do I see this project working?

Most of my work over the years has been in faith communities — so the people I’m looking to talk to will be in Christian churches, schools and connected agencies.  

If this project is helpful beyond that context, awesome, but for now I’m making sure I play to the strength of my experience by keeping the focus on communities I’m familiar with.

What is my approach?

At this stage I’m naming 5 elements to the therapeutic approach of the project:

“LIVED-EXPERIENCE LEARNING”

— while drawing on the strength of evidence-based research, I’m seeking to provide learning primarily through the grass-roots perspective of household carers.

“PERSON-CENTRED TREATMENT”

— upholding the dignity of the person as they pursue their path to recovery whatever their diagnosis or mental ill-health presentation happens to be.

“TRAUMA-INFORMED CARE”

— seeking to understand a person’s full story and therefore responding in a manner that is sensitive to the person’s trauma history.

“HOPE-ORIENTED COMMUNICATION”

— where an enduring anticipation of recovery is fostered as we seek to implement healthy care principles.

“JESUS-CENTRED BACKDROP”

— while the mention of Jesus may not be front and centre in the project, I acknowledge that I swim in an environment shaped by the kind of love Jesus demonstrates.

What’s my take on sexual and/or gender diversity?

In recognition of our society’s increased awareness of diversity in gender or sexuality (and the controversy the subject tends to engender in Christian circles) I feel it’s important to make mention of the topic.

The Resolute Love Project seeks to support household mental health carers of young people, and is not seeking to claim any expertise on the separate subjects of sexual diversity or gender diversity.

However, we also acknowledge the disproportionate rates of mental ill-health experienced by people in the queer community and are forthright in our care for them and the people in their households.  

My personal hope is that my own lived experience as a father to a trans-daughter will inform the support for others navigating similar experiences.

Where to from here?

That’s entirely in your hands!  

This website will give a clear idea on where the project is at publicly at any given moment, but if you want to keep up to date on new activity, feel free to subscribe to our email list!

Or, if you’d like me to come and talk with your group about the project or introduce one of our workshops, feel free to connect.

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