Living alongside a family member with mental illness can be tough for kids, who are often required to step up and assume responsibilities beyond their years. And with 1 in 5 Australians living with mental illness at any one time, many families are navigating these challenges every day.
Kookaburra Kids run educational and recreational camps for kids living in families affected by mental illness. The camps allow kids to have a break and just be kids, while also learning to better understand their loved one’s mental illness.
Kookaburra Kids’ Acting CEO Danielle McGloin says through camp, kids participate in fun activities such as canoeing, go-karting, ice skating, and archery. But more importantly, kids can step away from the complexities of their day-to-day lives, while finding comfort with like-minded peers.
“Because kids struggle to understand mental illness, they often believe they are to blame for their parent’s illness or behaviour,” explains Danielle.
“But at camp, kids learn that this is not the case. They are also able to develop connections with other children living in similar circumstances, which reinforces the notion that they are not alone.
“One of the highlights for the kids is Chat Group, where they share personal stories, and together learn coping skills which build resilience,” she says.
Danielle says broader benefits are often noticed upon the child’s returns home.
“We certainly see that children’s mental health knowledge increases after attending the program,” says Danielle.
“Parents have reported the positive impact this has had on parent/child relationships at home, with conversations about mental illness occurring that would never have taken place previously.”
Kookaburra Kids was one of 27 organisations to receive an EPIC Assist Community Grant in 2018. If you have a not-for-profit group that’s creating inclusive communities and greater opportunities for people with disability, apply for an EPIC Assist Community Grant today by visiting https://epicassist.org/get-involved/community-grants/