Caring for someone with mental health difficulties can present those in a position of care with difficult challenges that can have a negative impact on their own lives, both in terms of how the caring role affects their own health and wellbeing, but also how the role of caring for someone else can impact on practical and financial matters.
As a carer for someone with mental health difficulties, it is important that you get the support that you need for yourself in your caring role. This page outlines what support is available to you as a carer, and how to look after your own wellbeing.
If you’d like more information about caring for someone with mental health problems, please see our page Information for Carers
Looking after your own Wellbeing
Looking after someone who is experiencing mental health difficulties can be very hard at times; it can be upsetting and mentally exhausting. Caring can also be very isolating – if you spend your time looking after someone else it may not leave you much time to look after your own mental wellbeing; you may not have time for your hobbies, or to see your friends, and it can affect your relationships, too.
5 Ways to Wellbeing
At Mind, we promote the 5 ways to Wellbeing, which is an evidence-based approach to Wellbeing that promotes activities that individuals can do to improve and maintain their emotional health. The 5 ways to Wellbeing involves: Connecting with others, Getting Active, Keep Learning, Giving to others, and Taking Notice. Our Page on the 5 ways to Wellbeing offers some great ideas by which you can include these in your day-to-day life. Although it is often not easy as a carer to find the time to include these activities in your day-to-day life, there are some simple things that you can do that can have a real and positive impact on your own emotional wellbeing.
Free Mindfulness for Carers
One example is Mindfulness (Taking Notice), which is an activity that can be done in most places, that has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety by taking notice of your environment, your body and your thoughts; training your mind to focus on the present moment in time. Mindfulness has been found as particularly useful to many carers, and in Brighton & Hove we are fortunate that there are FREE Mindfulness classes available specifically for Carers.
- Preston Park Recovery Centre offers several Mindfulness-based courses, including an MBCT course specifically for carers. These courses are free, and you can apply by filling out a registration form, or ask your GP to refer you. Find out more on their website, or contact them on 01273 565049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Carer’s Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy – 10 week MBCT course funded by the NHS and the Council for carers who have had a carer’s assessment and are eligible for funded services. To find out more, contact Access Point on 01273 295555.
If you are a carer in Brighton and Hove, you are likely to be entitled to a Carer’s Card. This card offers you significant discounts and concessions on a wide variety of different services in the Brighton and Hove area, such as wellbeing activities like Yoga, transport discounts and discounted courses and classes; giving carers greater freedom to make the most of their own time.
- If you care for someone over 18 years old contact the Adult Social Care Access Point on 01273 295555 or email@example.com
- If you care for someone under 18 years old (for Parent Carers) and your child has a Compass Card, contact the Integrated Child Development and Disability Team on 01273 295153.
To find out more about the Carers Card and concession, please click here
This booklet is for you if you are supporting a friend or relative and want to know how to look after your own mental health. It offers advice on how to look after yourself and where to get further support..
This information sheet suggests some things that might be helpful for young people who may be supporting a brother, sister or other family member with mental health problems.
Rethink Mental Illness have created Caring for Yourself to help people with mental health problems and carers, family and friends. You may have a relative struggling with anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder, a friend with psychosis, schizophrenia or a personality disorder. Whatever the diagnosis, Caring for Yourself can help you to develop skills and new ways to cope.
If you’d like more information about how to look after your mental health, our section Looking after your mental health provides a lot of information and tips to improving and maintaining your mental health, and specific services and activities that you can get involved with in Brighton & Hove that are designed to enhance wellbeing.
Support from Others
If you’re finding that your role as a carer is impacting on your emotional health in a significant way, it may be worth considering whether counselling or a form of talking therapy would be useful for improving and maintaining your mental wellbeing.
For more information about talking therapies and availability in Brighton and Hove, please have a look at our Talking Therapies Page.
Sometimes caring for someone else means that it’s very hard to find time for yourself, to maintain your own health, and to ensure that your own needs are met. Some carers are unaware that they have certain rights, such as the right to have an assessment of their needs, to see if they are entitlement to access more practical, financial and emotional support. Getting an assessment of your needs is often a good starting-point in improving your own sense of wellbeing and to improve your ability to care for someone else.
For more information about Carers Rights, please click here.
Caring for someone with mental health problems can be lonely and isolating; one of the most common problems experienced by carers of someone with a mental health illness is that they feel that there are few people to talk to who understand what it’s like to live with someone who has mental health problems, and even talking with friends and family can be a struggle due to other people’s lack of knowledge and understanding about mental health.
Many find that it can be comforting to share experiences about being a carer, by talking with others who are in similar situations, providing a support-network and an opportunity to connect with others. In Brighton and Hove, there are a number of different support groups for carers of people with mental heath difficulties. There are a wide-range of support groups in Brighton & Hove, from more general groups for carers of people with mental health problems to more specific groups that focus on such things as particular disorders or diagnosis’s. Listed below are some of the most popular groups that we inform the carers that contact our Advice and Information Service about:
Local Support Groups
- Changes Ahead – Changes Ahead organise a support group for mental health carers, as well as offering one on one support, and regular social events. You can contact them on 07935 302838 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Carers Centre – The Carers Centre offer a range of support to carers, including the Young Carers Project, which offers support to young carers aged 8-25, the Male Carers Group, for men aged 18+, and the 16-25 Carers Group, for young adults aged 16-25. Please note, these groups are not only for carers of people with mental health difficulties. You can find out more information on their website, or by contacting them on 01273 746222.
- Men Get Eating Disorders Too (Carers Group) – Men Get Eating Disorders Too offer a support group for carers of men with eating disorders. You can contact them by e-mail at email@example.com.
- Amaze Support Groups – Amaze run a number of support groups for parents of children with SEN or disabilities, some of which are for fathers only, or parents of children in specific age groups. You can find out more from their website.
- Mill View Carers Support Group – A support group for carers of people who use acute mental health services in Brighton and Hove meets in Mill View Hospital once a month. Click here to download their 2016 poster with a full list of meeting dates. For more information contact Nick McMaster on 01273 621984 ext 2440 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Dementia Carer Information and Support Programme – If you care for someone with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Society run a series of workshops for people caring for a family member or friend with dementia. These groups offer an opportunity to talk about your experiences and the impact they are having on you, in a group of up to 12 other carers of people with dementia. They also aim to provide you with information and support on a number of topics. To find out more, contact the Alzheimer’s Society Brighton and Hove office on 01273 726266 or email@example.com.
- Mental health support groups – Support groups for people with specific mental health diagnoses, such as Bipolar Disorder, are often open to carers of people with these issues as well. You can look for a support group on our online directory of local services.
Respite care and holidays
Sometimes it’s important to take a break from your caring role. Respite care is when someone takes over your caring duties for a short period – anything from a matter of hours to days – to allow you to take a break. Sometimes respite care involves someone coming to your house to provide care, or it can involve the person you care for going to stay somewhere that provides residential care.
Most free or low cost respite care is provided through the council, or the mental health team:
The person you care for will need to be assessed, either by their mental health team or the council, to determine if they are eligible for social care. As mentioned previously, once you have had a Carers Assessment by the council, they will see if you are eligible for respite support as a carer.
If you are both eligible for support, then the mental health team or the council may be able to advise you on respite services you can access. How much you are charged (if at all) depends on the financial situation of the person you care for, but you may be able to get funding to pay for these services, either through the Carers Grant, or a charitable grant, or occasionally the council will provide funding through Direct Payments or Personal Budgets.
Rethink offer more information on how to access respite care on their website, or you can contact them on 0300 5000 927 between 10am-2pm Monday to Friday.