We get many calls to the SANE Helpline from people who are looking after a loved one with a mental illness.
It is estimated that carers of someone with a mental illness spend an average of 104 hours per week in the caring role. This can make being a carer a very demanding responsibility, and getting some outside support can make a big difference.
It is important for you to take care of yourself, as it is quite common for carers to put their own needs aside.
As a carer it's important to remember you are not alone and there are external services available that can provide support. You can think of this as building a team that will support you through the challenging times.
There are many different people and services, online and face-to-face, that you can tap into and the list below is a good starting point.
Carers Australia runs Mental Health Foundations for Carers. An interactive online program that sets out some of the issues you may face and the support you may consider.
You will find lots of carers sharing their experiences on the SANE Forums. Reading other people’s experiences can help you feel connected and the online discussions contain lots of practical suggestions. The forums allow you to hear strategies that have worked for others, or even learn from their experiences that have not been so helpful.
Counselling services and support groups can be a great way of getting support.
Professional support in counselling allows you to discuss issues related to your loved one’s health and the impact this has on you.
While support groups give you the opportunity to share experiences with others who are experiencing similar circumstances.
For more information you can contact:
Carers sometimes need a break. By accessing respite services, it allows you to take a break from your caring role and either attend to other tasks or have a much deserved rest.
You can contact ARAFMI, Carers Australia or the SANE Help Centre for details on respite in your state.
The COPMI (Children Of Parents with a Mental Illness) website is a great resource and includes information for parents too.
If children want to speak with someone about what is happening, they can speak with a counsellor at their school or they can contact the Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Kids Helpline also offer an online chat option should this be more comfortable for them.
Of course, sometimes the responsibilities of being a carer can build-up and you feel like it's all too much. In these times it's important to know that there is always someone who cares and is willing to listen. In times of a crisis the best service to contact is Lifeline, a 24 hour crisis service available by calling 13 11 14.
As a carer of someone living with a mental illness, it is important to remember to take care of yourself as well.
Self-care includes any actions you can take towards caring for your own physical, mental and emotional health. These actions can often be quite simple, and need not take up a lot of time, or cost a lot of money.
Here are a few ideas to help you get started on a self-care plan that works for you.
Hopefully you find these tips and resources to be a good starting point for building your own team.