Support for family friends and carers
Family and friends can play a vital role in supporting someone with a mental health issue.1 Caring for someone close to you can be challenging and often be an isolating experience. It is normal to feel a range of emotions including love, guilt, fear and grief.2
During this time, it is important to look after your own mental health and wellbeing to provide the support and care that your friend/family member might need. Being a support person can put you at greater risk of developing a mental health condition yourself.3
SANE Australia is a national charity helping all Australians affected by a mental health issue. They provide the following tips for looking after yourself as a carer:
- Remember you have a right to your own life, and to nurture your own mental and physical health.
- Remain physically active in ways that you enjoy (for example – walking, stretching, jogging or playing a team sport).
- Get enough sleep each night (for example – go to bed and rise at regular times).
- Stay in touch with friends and family who can encourage and support you.
- Establish a regular night out with people you care about (for example – seeing a movie once a week).
- Take-up a new hobby or reconnect with an activity you used to enjoy (for example – cooking, reading, gardening, photography, listening to music). Find a local carers' support group or online forums such as SANE’s online Carers Forum where you can share experiences, tips, and support with others in your situation.
A range of support services exist to help support family, friends, and carers of people with mental health issues.
These services can provide practical, financial and emotional support such as respite care, training, advocacy and peer support:
Active Response Bereavement Outreach (ARBOR) - offers free short-medium term counselling, referral, volunteer peer support and support groups to people who have lost loved ones to suicide in WA - 1300 11 44 46. Available Monday-Friday 9.00am-4.30pm.
HelpingMinds – provides a wide range of free supports and services for families, friends and carers of people with mental health issues including, linking people to other carers who can offer face-to-face peer support, counselling and information, respite and advocacy services - 1800 811 747.
Carers WA – Offers a range of innovative programs and services aimed at providing practical and emotional support to carers. Services include the provision of specialist information and advice and carer support through education/training, social support and carer advocacy and representation.
Carers WA is also the lead service provider for Carer Gateway services in WA. Services include in-person peer support, counselling, respite care and financial assistance.
To access Carers WA and Carer Gateway supports, carers can contact Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737.
Carers online support – interactive program providing support for carers who might be caring for someone with a mental health issue.
Sane Australia [Internet]. Melbourne (Australia): SANE Australia; n.d. What support is available for carers? [updated 2017, Feb 1; cited 2017 Oct 27]. Available from: https://www.sane.org/families-carers/35-what-support-is-available-for-carers
Carer Gateway [Internet]. Canberra (Australia): Australian Government. Support services for carers of mentally ill people [n.d.; cited 2017 Nov 27]. Available from: https://www.carergateway.gov.au/mental-health-services
Beyond Blue [Internet]. Hawthorn (Australia): Looking after yourself [n.d.; cited 2017 Nov 27]. Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/supporting-someone/looking-after-yourself
Anglicare [Internet]. West Perth (Australia): For those Bereaved [n.d.; cited 2017 Nov 27]. Available from: https://www.anglicarewa.org.au/relationships/suicide-prevention-postvention/arbor/for-those-bereaved/default.aspx
Beyond Blue [Internet]. Hawthorn (Australia): Understanding suicide and grief [n.d.; cited 2017 Nov 27]. Available from: https://www.beyondblue.org.au/the-facts/suicide-prevention/understanding-suicide-and-grief