We are a Spider’s Web: the friendship in times of crisis storytelling project by Frankie Hanman-Siegersma

We are a Spiders Web: the friendship in times of crisis storytelling project aims to make visible the skills, knowledges, values, beliefs and histories that inspire community and friendship-based responses to ‘mental health crisis’. This video shares stories from the project, from people who helped their trans kin to access psychiatric support during a difficult time in their life, to the sustaining magic of queer covens, to home cooked meals, Uber eats ice-cream deliveries and chosen whanau. Our hope is that these stories travel to other networks of friends and communities who have their own practices of solidarity and peer support, and as such, that there is a building upon non-medicalised, and non-carceral approaches to responding to ‘mental health crisis’. We also hope this project is a useful resource for those working within the formalised mental health system here in Australia, and internationally, and that it might provide ideas and opportunities to uplift the insider knowledge of friendships and communities, in your local context.

Some ideas and question to consider as you watch the video:

What are the dominant discourses, in your local context, that might shape how we respond to ‘mental health crisis’ in our friendships, family, and wider community? These could be stories around ‘public safety’, ‘risk’ or ‘containment’ that might be linked to social norms or expectations impacted by the forces of race, gender, sexuality and disability?

What ideas might we bump up against if we look first to friendships, families and communities as best positioned to respond to mental health crisis, rather than the biomedical system?

In what ways might the stories from ‘We are a Spider’s Web’ touch your own context? Are there ways you are already support localised efforts of solidarity?

What do you need to do, in your friendships, communities and networks in order to make this more possible?

Author biography

Frankie Hanman-Siegersma (they/them) is a descendent of Dutch, British and Irish immigrants, living on Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung country in narrm (Melbourne, Australia). Frankie is a queer peer worker and narrative therapy practitioner. They work within community-led LGBTIQ+ suicide justice space, and with folks whose lives have been shaped by the effects of ‘mental illness’. Frankie is interested in the movement of neoliberal, individualistic therapy towards activism, and collective liberation. They enjoy facilitating opportunities for ritual, poetry, music, cultural practice and pop culture in their work alongside community members.

Published on October 4, 2023

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