Carers Support, Information and Resources
“It bears repeating: your love, acceptance and patience are more effective than you will ever realize. My parents likely will never know how important, how life saving, and life changing their support was for me, especially when I was in full resistance mode. So although you may feel helpless and see little progress at times, without those three elements any other kind of help is empty. It does get better. And please remember, treat yourself with kindness and find adequate support for yourself. A challenge like this is not easy – for anyone.”
© 2012 Victoria Maxwell http://victoriamaxwell.com
The willingness to come together as a family unit, accept the diagnosis with empathy and compassion and to seek help and support is the foundation for which recovery for all is built.
Mental health problems vary greatly in severity. Mental illness often affects the family as a whole, creating tension, unique, and difficult emotional and often financial challenges. Carers can be a parent, spouse, relative, friend or paid carer. Caring for someone can be emotionally and physically exhausting and it brings uncertainty and change in how people live their lives. A family member may find themselves unexpectedly in the role of a full time carer. Help and support can be hard to find, which can lead to feelings of isolation, financial stress/hardship, and loss of social life and / or career. This can be detrimental to the carer’s own mental health, well-being and can lead to breakdown of the family unit.
It can be very reassuring knowing where and how you can get the help and support you need. United Consulting Rooms provide a support network for families, including referrals to counsellors and psychologists and providing services), organise and help with respite care. United Consulting Rooms clinicians are dedicated to providing support, education and to facilitate families to be more supportive, understanding, patient with one another, to learn how to effective communicate with one another, reduce conflict, stress and work towards improving and nourishing your most treasured relationship.
A patient once described her experience as “The psychologist enabled me to see things objectively and provided me with clarity and solutions I had not seen or thought before. I was given a safe place to deal with my sadness, frustration, anger and daily battles I was faced with that arise from such difficult circumstances. Time and time again you are reminded that the healthier you are, physically, emotionally and spiritually, the better equipped you are at handling demanding, the unique and often relentless set of challenges being a carer brings, but most of all you are able to give the person you love who is ill more love and support.”
Carers are instrumental in a person’s journey through recovery, and it’s important to have a good support system. Many carers and family members find it helpful to see a clinician themselves. The team of clinicians at United Consulting Rooms can help you deal with the stresses that come with caring for a loved one with a chronic and severe mental illness. They can help you develop management plans, such as a health and wellbeing plan, a crisis and emergency plan and a Mental Health Care Plan.
A Carers Health and Well-being Plan
A health and well-being plan can help you detect and manage your own early warning stress signals and triggers, which could be physical, behavioural or emotional. Ensuring you are looking after yourself, knowing your limits and getting appropriate to ensure you can cope better in times of extreme stress, as well as over the longer term.
Things to consider in your own health and well-being plan are:
- Ask for help, when needed
- Eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet
- Maintain a positive outlook and a sense of humour
- Exercise regularly—aim for at least 30 minutes of activity every day
- Maintain hobbies or activities that you enjoy and find personally rewarding
- Ensure you get enough sleep
- Have regular health check-ups with your doctor/psychologist
Identifying your stress triggers and having a plan in place to deal with them is also helpful. Early warning signs can be physical, behavioural and emotional and could include sleep deprivation over consecutive nights, making you irritable or ‘snappy’. You may start to feel anxious or worried, you, your family members or friends start to may notice changes in how you behave or respond to other people.
GETTING HELP IN A CRISIS – Crisis or Emergency Care Plan
There may be times when the mental health of the carer deteriorates which requires additional or urgent help. This includes when the behaviour of the person they are caring for puts them or others at risk of being hurt and or when they are not able to resolve the situation with the skills and resources available. A mental health crisis or emergency care plan would address any physical health crisis that may occur. Having a plan already in place prior to a crisis will help everyone to recognise, manage, plan and even prevent a mental health crisis. It’s important that all members of a family are involved and participate in the discussion to formulate the plan, including the person who is mentally ill; it is incredibly important that their needs and preferences are heard and respected by all and that they are an active participant in their own care.
Mental Health Care Plan
Providing ongoing care and support for someone who is living with a mental illness can involve many different support organisations. These may include psychologists, GPs, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses or other community care providers such as the Acute Care Team. Your support teams and organisations need to work together to provide you with the best level of care. Everyone’s treatment needs may differ. A Mental Health Care Plan that clearly outlines in writing the support you expect from each of the people in your mental healthcare team, including carers, and ensures everyone knows who is responsible for what, how, and when.
You are an important part of this team and should be fully involved in preparing your mental health care plan
All plans needs to be very precise. The person who is mentally ill needs to be fully involved in the preparation of the care plan. Plans lead to better treatment by focusing on improving and maintaining good mental health, as opposed to trying to put out fires as they arise or waiting until situations become unmanageable; it can provide lifesaving information that is easily accessible in an emergency.
The team at United Consulting Rooms has a rich depth of knowledge and experience and can help you all work towards a plan that ensures you have the best care and support possible.
“When I was first diagnosed with bipolar I disorder and psychosis, my parents’ acceptance, love and boundary setting was pivotal. Even when I lacked the ability to accept my mood disorder, I knew in the back of my mind, my parents were a ‘soft place to fall’. When I did eventually recognize I needed help, I knew I could turn to them. And I did. Do not think your kindness falls on deaf ears – our soul or our subconscious or whatever name you’d like to give it, registers far more than we realize.” How to Help a Loved One with a Mental Illness. I Don’t Have a Mental Illness. Go Away! Published on September 30, 2012 by Victoria Maxwell in Crazy for Life
SANE Helpline 1800 18 SANE (7263) for details of support groups and other services for family carers in your local area. There may also be groups for young people whose families are affected.
Centrelink provide details of benefits and services for family carers as well as for people with a mental illness. See www.centrelink.gov.au or call 13 10 21.
Carers Australia provide details of local Carers Associations and their services, including respite. See www.carersaustralia.com.au or call 1800 242 636.
Commonwealth Carelink provide details of government services for people with a disability and their carers. See www.commcarelink.health.gov.au or call 1800 052 222
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