Just as our physical health can fluctuate so can our mental health. It is estimated that one in four of us will experience poor mental health at some stage of our lives. In England, MIND a leading mental health organisation state, that 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week. Just proving how common mental poor health can be.
Many people may associate caring with physical tasks but caring for a loved one with mental health difficulties can be emotionally draining. It is vital that carers look after their own mental and physical health in order to be able to meet the support needs of the person they care for. Many mental health conditions fluctuate and so the person’s support needs will also change. This can cause additional challenges for the carer and possibly result in them feeling confused and stressed.
Here are some suggestions that may help carers focus on their own physical and emotional health and wellbeing:
- Understanding the mental health diagnosis, how this can present and treatments available can be helpful in supporting your loved one.
- Be mindful that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ approach and so being flexible and prepared to try different approaches will help you both find a way that works best.
- Having a network of friends and family around you who are also involved in the person’s care can help to share responsibilities.
- Finding time to focus on something you enjoy, that helps you to relax will not only be good for your own wellbeing but will also encourage the cared for person to be independent when you are otherwise engaged.
- Be patient as recovery from any period of poor mental health can take time and there may well be setbacks on the way.
- Talking to others in a similar situation can reduce feelings of isolation and may present opportunities for new friendships to form.
- Looking after your physical health by getting enough sleep, taking exercise and eating healthily will have a positive effect on your own mental health.
- Having a crisis plan or strategy for coping when things get tough can be very useful to refer to in an emergency.
In any caring role – not just mental health, it is important to look after yourself so you can look after the people you love.
Sarah Adelsbury Devon Carers Lead Practitioner in Mental Health
Useful information and organisations
Anxiety UK support those living with anxiety and anxiety-based depression by providing information, support and understanding.
National charity dedicated to supporting individuals with the much misunderstood and devastating condition of bipolar, their families and carers.
Centre for Mental Health
The Centre for Mental Health is an independent UK mental health charity. It aims to inspire hope, opportunity and a fair chance in life for people of all ages with or at risk of mental ill health.
Devon County Council
If you are concerned about your own mental health, or you are worried about the mental health of a relative or someone you are care for please see this website for advice and guidance.
Devon Integrated Childrens Services CAMHS
CAMHS provides specialist assessment and evidence based interventions to all children and young people under the age of 18 living in Devon, who are experiencing severe, complex and enduring mental health and emotional wellbeing problems
Devon Partnership Trust
We provide a wide range of NHS services to people with mental health and learning disability needs – in Devon, the wider South West region and nationally. We are passionate about promoting good mental health and wellbeing.
If you hear voices HVN can help – we are committed to helping people who hear voices. Their reputation is growing as the limitations of a solely medical approach to voices become better known.
Psychiatry traditionally refers to hearing voices as ‘auditory hallucinations’ but research shows that there are many explanations for hearing voices. Many people begin to hear voices as a result of extreme stress or trauma. They offer information, support and understanding to people who hear voices and those who support them.
Mind offers information and advice to people with mental health problems and lobbies government and local authorities on their behalf. It also works to raise public awareness and understanding of issues relating to mental health.
Mental Health Foundation
The Mental Health Foundation is the UK’s charity for everyone’s mental health. With prevention at the heart of what we do, we aim to find and address the sources of mental health problems.
Recovery Devon seeks to provide a gateway to recovery based support, research and guidance for individuals and those working in mental health services.
Sane offers information and advice to people with mental health problems and lobbies government and local authorities on their behalf. It also works to raise public awareness and understanding of issues relating to mental health.
Alumina is a project dedicated to supporting young people impacted by self-harm, providing a safe space to talk, ask any questions and be honest about what’s going on in your life.
Time To Change
Time to Change is a mental health campaign in England, launched in 2007 with the objective of reducing mental health-related stigma and discrimination.
We offer a wide variety of support to help people deal with the personal and practical impacts of mental health issues. The services we can provide range from one-to-one support in the community to supported accommodation and making sure people understand and are able to express their needs in their dealings with official bodie.