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World Mental Health Day — 10 October 2015

I talk about mental health very openly, I encourage others to do so too. I strongly believe that accessing help and being provided with a range of support for mental ill health has clear benefits for those struggling. No one should talk about getting help, support and medication for mental ill health as a negative, as a weakness. We’d never tell someone with cancer to pull their socks up and get over it.

The world is moving towards a better place for mental health (we’re not there yet) but I think we’re moving in the right direction. But, just like any journey we need the right vehicle, tools and supplies to get us to where we’re going safely.

Carers are actually regarded as a vulnerable group in society, the impact of caring for someone who is seriously ill has a significant impact on the mental and physical wellbeing of carers, finances, work and wider opportunities in life that they would otherwise have access to. But being a carer doesn’t mean you are destined to have poor mental health, if carers are given the right support and resources early enough and encouraged to take care of themselves this can make a significant difference.

If carers (of all ages) are acknowledged and supported early in their caring journey it can make a significant difference.

If they are given the information they need to understand the condition of the person they care for, what they need to do to support them and understand the system that will be treating them this can have a significant impact. This is especially the case for young carers who – by default of their age – can sometimes feel that they are the cause of the ill health of their parent (for example).

If they are referred to carer support services at an early point, provided with a carer’s assessment and supported to see the value of taking care of themselves, the role of carer doesn’t have to be all that they are defined by and their health can be prevented from deteriorating and their wellbeing maintained.

There are real challenges to doing this: many health and social care staff are still lacking in carer awareness and understanding the real value of supporting carers properly, inadequate funding to health and social care means that carers are still providing far more support for those they care for than they should, the stigma of caring and the stigma of poor mental health means that many carers still do not access support when they should and are not encouraged to do so by health and social care professionals.

So what do we do on World Mental Health Day, when the journey is long and our vehicle may not be in the best condition it could be? Well, we keep going, we make sure that the signs are clear to where we can get help on our journey, we take our time and take care of ourselves and others who are making the journey with us. We keep talking and supporting one another and encouraging those who need more support than others that it’s ok to ask for help.

If you are a carer or know one and want to find more information about support for carers visit www.carers.org.


Ruth Hannan is Policy & Development Manager (Mental Health) at Carers Trust


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October 9, 2015 - Posted by | Mental Health

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