Over recent years, Ferrer has been supporting caregivers and investigating the implications of caring for a family member with mental ill health, which can be both a burden and a life-affirming experience (1). The balance is precarious for many caregivers.
For the 2018 World Mental Health Day, the focus is on caring for a young person when they are affected by mental ill health in their late teens or early twenties, which involves some specific issues. Through the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness – EUFAMI - we’d like to share some advice from experienced caregivers for looking after their own mental health (2).
Caring for yourself does not have to be complicated or demanding.
These four steps are a good place to start:
Take the time to care for yourself. This does not mean a demanding exercise regime! It could be a short walk, reading a book or cooking a favourite meal.
Safeguard your own boundaries. It is important to get to know your own limits and recognize the warning signs that you may be putting too much pressure on yourself.
Learn how to manage the difficult times. Ask for, and accept, help. Keep communicating – with your loved one, other caregivers, your friends and your family doctor.
Build your personal support system. Make a list of all the family, friends, colleagues and professionals who can help you. Remember there are resources and tools online too.
Blanthorn‑Hazell et al. A survey of caregiver burden in those providing informal care for patients with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder with agitation: results from a European study Ann Gen Psychiatry (2018) 17:8