Caring for someone with a mental illness can be both rewarding and challenging. A challenge which can be more varied than for other carers, with unpredictable symptoms and varying levels of care and assistance required. Depending on the illness and its seriousness, the help and support provided by carers, friends and family can be vital when it comes to successfully treating mental health problems.
As a carer it is important to look after yourself and to use the help, information and support available. Chartwell Insurance, a completely independent insurance broker that offers specialist policies for carers and disabled individuals, has put together some places to go for help and advice.
- As a carer it is important to familiarize yourself with the legal and ethical issues surrounding the treatment of the mental health condition. The NHS website provides this information and information on the mental health services available.
- MIND, the charity dedicated to mental health, provide information on helping someone else and how to cope as a carer, as well as practical information, such as benefits .
- The Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) has practical tips on what to do and where to get support if a friend or family member is facing a mental health problem. It also has a guide to some mental health problems and how to recognise the early signs.
- As a carer it is important not to ignore your own health. The NHS website has a section dedicated to looking after your own wellbeing, with tips and advice ranging from assessments and taking time out to maintaining relationships.
- Respite care is a way for carers to have a break from caring and for someone with a mental illness to have a break from their surroundings. Rethink have a guide to respite care on their website, written from a carer’s perspective.
- For information on practical support and financial support available look at the NHS website. Information ranges from services available and how to access them to benefits and household finances.
- The NHS also provides a free online caring with confidence programme to help carers to learn new skills and expand knowledge. The programme is designed to help carers understand how the care system works, discover how caring affects their life and emotions, how to gain a balance, how to communicate effectively and how to take control of time and finances.
- For general carer advice Carers UK and Carers Trust both offer help and advice on a range of issues. Both sites have forums where you can seek advice from likeminded people.
- As well as the charities already mentioned, some others which support carers and those with mental health issues are the Mental Health Foundation, SANE and YoungMinds.