Mental Health: When your caring role affects your mental and emotional health
As the story of a mum with a disabled daughter who tragically died by suicide hit the news this week, it got us thinking about how much more there is to be done regarding mental health; particularly, in this instance, for those who are caring for someone else. It’s startling that more isn’t being done when someone asks for help and how many people are unaware of help available, or how to access it. People are struggling with their caring roles and feel unable to seek the right help and support, and our mission here at FamilyCarersNet is to help change this and give Carers a voice, and somewhere to turn to when they need it most. As stated in the original news article Jane Kavanagh, 33 took her own life just a day after calling her GP surgery for help, telling them that she felt suicidal. There is no record of her mental state being flagged up despite a previous history of mental health issues and she was given an appointment to see her GP for 12 days later. The fight to make mental health as important as physical health is ongoing, with it being a huge topic at the moment in the media with many charities and organisations using their voices to raise awareness for those struggling with their mental and emotional wellbeing. The more people fight for this health equality, bringing mental health to the forefront of the medical field, the more it will be recognised as a serious health condition that requires urgent and immediate attention.
Mental health problems are extremely common and anyone can be affected. According to MIND Mental Health Charity, approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem every year and although this hasn’t raised significantly, it appears that people are finding it more difficult to cope. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why someone is suffering, but it can be a result of circumstances or events. It could be brought about by financial worries, health concerns or conditions, jobs, benefits or as a result of dealing with grief, loss or stress.
Is your caring role affecting your mental health?
When caring for someone else it can be all consuming and your own personal health and wellbeing may suffer as a result. If the person you look after has demanding needs either physically, mentally or a combination of these it can be emotionally draining, and both physically and mentally challenging. Often people don’t consider that their own needs must be met in order to be able to better take care of others, but by looking after yourself you are essentially being selfless by allowing yourself to be in the best possible state of health. If you find that your moods, day to day activities and coping mechanisms are affected by your mental health struggles then it may be time to talk: if you have family and friends around you, don’t be afraid to speak up if you need help, or even if you just need someone to talk to. At FamilyCarersNet we understand that sometimes you just want someone to vent to or voice how you’re feeling. The Pod* is a place for Carers to come together and access advice, information and support: both professional and peer to peer.
Seek help from your GP or other Professionals
It’s also really important to make contact with your GP or other health professionals to seek urgent help, particularly if you are having thoughts about suicide or struggling with low mood, anxiety, panic attacks and depression. Social prescribing is becoming more prevalent within the healthcare service and GP’s are using it alongside or instead of medicating. It may be that you don’t wish to use medication or want to try alternative ways of improving your mental health without starting or increasing medication, but accessing a wide range of interventions and services by way of community referral could make a huge difference to those struggling with their mental health, particularly when related to events of circumstances as opposed to a long term problem. The Mental Health Foundation have a selection of stories written by those who have learnt to deal with or overcome their struggles which is both inspirational and informative.
We’ve put together a list of Helplines & Websites that you can contact if you feel like you need to speak with someone about your mental health, or suicidal thoughts:
Samaritans (116 123) Samaritans.org
CALM (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net
Childline (0800 1111)
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41)
Depression Alliance charity depressionalliance.org.uk
Students Against Depression studentsagainstdepression.org
The Sanctuary (0300 003 7029) 8pm-6pm nightly