Are you a carer?
Are you helping someone with a mental health condition or illness? If so, you might be called this person's carer.
You might spend time with the person and listen to their concerns. Perhaps you look after them full time at home. Maybe you’re there when they have to go into hospital.
If you support someone with mental illness, you are playing an important role in their recovery.
You know how they normally act and which treatments work for them. You can answer questions if they become unwell.
Every caring relationship is unique. But there are some common issues that carers of someone with a mental illness will go through.
Help them take the first step
If you’re close to someone who has symptoms of mental illness, encourage them to seek help.
If you think they're avoiding treatment, try talking to them about getting help for a physical symptom (e.g. not sleeping well, not having much energy).
Mental illness: first steps to get help
Discuss the diagnosis
A diagnosis is made after a thorough assessment of a person’s physical and mental health.
A diagnosis is just an agreed name for a certain set of symptoms. A diagnosis allows doctors to plan treatment and let you know what you should expect.
A diagnosis can change over time. It does not define the person.
If the person you’re caring for has been diagnosed with a mental illness, you might need to discuss with the person:
- the meaning of the diagnosis
- how much care and ongoing support they think they need
- what is realistic for both of you.
A diagnosis might make you feel relieved. Or you might feel worried or stressed about what this means for the person you are supporting and yourself.
Recommended mental health support services
Partner with doctors
Psychiatrists, GPs and other doctors value carers as an essential part of mental health care.
If the person you care for agrees, you can:
- go to appointments with them
- talk about treatment and medications with the doctor
- find out general information about their illness from the doctor
- find out how you can support them at home.
The doctor should:
- provide you with information on your role and rights as a carer
- explain what they can (and can’t) talk about with you
- answer any questions you have
- refer you to carer support services if you need them.