Hints and Tips for Carers

Here are a few hints and tips from other carers that might be helpful to you.

Tip 1: Learn all you can about the condition

Try to find out as much information as possible about the specific mental health difficulties that the person close to you is experiencing. The more you know, the easier it will be to understand their behaviour. Libraries, websites and healthcare professionals can all have useful information.

Tip 2: Acknowledge that you alone can't solve everything

How you respond can effect the person that is close to you for better or for worse. Discuss this with your local mental health team to ensure that you’re responding appropriately. But don't fall into the trap of thinking you can cure someone with mental health difficulties. The illness is ultimately their responsibility, not yours. You cannot do their therapy. You cannot force them to go to sessions, groups or meetings. You cannot take their medication for them.

Tip 3: Expect there may be setbacks

Relapses can, and will, happen at any time. Accepting that there will be setbacks at some stage makes them easier to handle when they occur. Progress often comes with two steps forward and one step back. Learning from setbacks is an important (but tiring!) process in recovering from a mental illness.

Tip 4: Hold your ground

Sometimes, when the person you’re caring for is not thinking clearly, they may try to convince you that you’re the one with the problem not them. You may start to question your own judgment at times. Stick to your guns. Trust your instincts. Don’t let their disordered thinking lower your self-esteem.

Tip 5: Have realistic expectations

When people with mental health difficulties make progress it can be tempting to think that they’re completely cured and the illness has gone away. However, most mental health difficulties take time to manage. It’s worth remembering how far you’ve both come and that a manageable difficulty is a good outcome.

Tip 6: You can’t do it alone

Find a support group for carers or family members of people with the difficulty. These groups can be a great source of information and practical coping strategies. Go to at least two meetings to get a rounded view. Mental illness touches people everywhere from all walks of life.

Tip 7: Do something you both enjoy

Remember that their mental health difficulties aren’t everything. Find something that you both like to do together. This will give you a break and provide you with more energy.

Tip 8: Keep healthy boundaries

When you care for someone with a mental illness it can be hard to maintain boundaries but they’re vital. Take time out for yourself. Keep exercising, stay involved in groups and activities you enjoy. Keep up your connections to friends. It’s not self-indulgent or thoughtless to want to have a life away from the person you’re caring for, it’s healthy and it’s important.