One of the things I’ve become painfully aware of during the course of my current mental health difficulties has been the toll that it’s taken on those I care the most about, most notably my husband. Tom has been nothing short of amazing – many of you have commented in my previous posts about what a sterling job he’s doing. I couldn’t be more grateful, but I do worry about him.
The role of carer varies enormously depending on whether you are a partner, a parent, a sibling, a friend or a child of someone with a mental health issue, but whichever role you fulfil it’s important that you look after your own wellbeing before you look after your loved one’s. When I’m teaching, I always remind people of the airplane rule – put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others (I’ll be honest, this has been repeated back at me once or twice..). It’s so true.
Sometimes the best way of caring for someone you love is to care first for yourself. Only when you have the physical and emotional energy you need to face each day can you provide a good level of care, support and kindness for a loved one.
Below you can read and download an excellent guide from Mind about coping as a carer. I’ve also included a range of links and networks at the foot of this post which you may find helpful. Your GP is also a good port of call. Your GP can help you understand what support is available locally and will often be able to make a referral for counselling or other support.
Coping as a Carer – a guide from Mind
Useful Links and Networks
Rethink Siblings Network
Support your sibling and look after your own wellbeing through Rethink’s Siblings Network.
Rethink ‘Caring For Yourself’guide
Download the full guide here which consists of eight books which offer tips and exercises on how to look after your own wellbeing as well as supporting the person you care for, covering topics such as finding the information you need and coping with relapse.
FEAST – families empowered and supporting eating disorders
A friendly network of parents and other family members supporting a loved one with an eating disorder.
Beat – support for carers of people with eating disorders
Beat’s support services are open to those looking after someone with an eating disorder as well as the individuals themselves. Visit the relevant pages on the Beat website to find out about the Helpline, Online Support Groups, message boards and local support groups. Beat also have resources specially designed for those supporting individuals in our leaflet library.
[Pooky is a trustee of Beat and welcomes feedback on their provision]
Supporting young people affected by the mental illness of a parent or sibling through information, resources and support.
[Pooky is a trustee of Kidstime and welcomes feedback on their provision]
Information and support for carers, including an online chatroom.
tel: 0808 808 7777
email: firstname.lastname@example.org Independent information and support for carers.
Young Carers Network
tel: 0844 800 4361
Support and information for young carers.
If you are a carer and have suggestions for others in a similar situation, please leave a comment with useful tips, advice or links (you can do so anonymously and without logging in). If you are someone who is suffering and would like to leave a note of thanks for those in a caring role, please take a moment to do so. Carers are the unsung heroes of these stories and I, for one, am hugely grateful to all those who care both for myself and for the many others out there who would struggle without such support.