At Mentis Assist we offer a service for people who care for their loved ones who experience a mental illness. Our Carer Services offer one on one support as well as short term Respite Activities such as Carer morning teas and day trips for Carers.
For every person who experiences episodes of ill mental health at least 5 other people in their lives will also be affected by their illness, this includes family, friends, and colleagues.
The experience of mental illness not only affects the individual but also those who care about them. Families and friends can play a vital role in supporting a person with mental illness. Many in this role do not even think of themselves as a ‘carer’. They have found themselves in this role because they see it as part of their relationship with the person who is affected. They may be a parent of someone with a mental illness, or an adult caring for a partner, parent or friend. A child who looks after a family member with a mental illness, such as a parent, can also be a carer. Carers also may not necessarily live with the person they care for.
Whatever the personal relationship, it is important to acknowledge that caring for someone living with a mental illness can be a demanding and often isolating experience. It is essential therefore to look after yourself as well as the person you are caring for. Self-care includes looking after your own physical, mental and emotional health. Doing this can sometimes be down to a matter of changing habits and attitudes. It need not take up a lot of time or cost a lot of money.
Tips for looking after yourself as a carer:
-Remember you have a right to your own life, and to nurture your own mental and physical health.
-Remain physically active in ways that you enjoy (for example – walking, stretching, jogging or playing a team sport).
- Get enough sleep each night (for example – go to bed and rise at regular times).
-Stay in touch with friends and family who can encourage and support you.
-Establish a regular night out with your spouse (for example – seeing a movie once a week).
-Take up a new hobby or reconnect with an activity you used to enjoy (for example – cooking, reading, gardening, photography, listening to music).
-Find a local carers support group or service.
“A mental illness in a loved one can feel like a loss. The person you knew seems to be gone. They are there, and not there at the same time. Knowing that there are others out there going through the same thing is so important.”
- Support from family and friends is important for people with mental illness and for you as the carer.
- Financial, emotional and respite help is available for carers.
- Taking a break from caring is important for your own, and your loved ones wellbeing.
As a carer it is important to reach out for help when you need it. There are many Carer services available. For more information call Mentis Assist on 1300 MENTIS (1300 636 847).