Are you caring for someone with a mental illness? Here you will find information about the role of carers, what to do if someone you know needs help, as well as resources and links to support you.
What is a carer?
The Carers Recognition Act 2010 identifies a carer as an individual who provides personal care, support and assistance to another individual.
Carers provide assistance because the individual:
- has a disability; or
- has a medical condition (including a terminal or chronic illness); or
- has a mental illness; or
- is frail and aged.
Carers and families play a vital role in the support and care of people who suffer mental illness. It can be quite challenging, demanding and confusing at times; however you are not alone in these feelings or in this situation. If you are unsure on how to handle a situation or just require someone to, talk to there is always help.
Metro South Addiction and Mental Health Services acknowledge the significant contribution family members and carers make in supporting consumers on their recovery journey. We recognise that family members and carers have needs specific to their own circumstances, separate from consumers.
Carer support is available in our inpatient facilities, as well as in the community.
What do I do if someone needs help?
If you are concerned that someone is behaving in a way that suggests they are likely to hurt themselves or others, seeking help is vital.
In an emergency:
- always call 000
- contact your local GP
- call or visit your local mental health service
- visit your local hospital emergency department.
What can I do as a carer?
There are a number of things you can do as a carer to assist your family member or friend while they are accessing the mental health service.
- Make yourself known to the treating team
- Get involved in medical appointments and treatment planning, with your family member or friend’s consent
- Ask questions
- Work as a team with the mental health service towards your family member or friend’s recovery and provide as much information as possible to enable the treating team to help you to support them
- Understand that staff may not be able to give you confidential information if consent has not been given by your family member or friend - staff will endeavour to provide you as much information as possible within these limits and recognise the importance of this information for you
- You are encouraged to provide feedback either in person, by telephone or in writing as this will help us to improve the quality of service we provide.
For more information please refer to the Carer Recognition Act 2010.
What are my rights and responsibilities?
As a carer of a consumer of our service, you are entitled to:
- respect for human worth, dignity and privacy
- comprehensive information, education, training and support to facilitate the understanding, advocacy and care of the consumer you care for
- have access to the consumer, with the consent of the consumer
- be consulted by service providers about measures under consideration for treatment of the consumer or for his or her welfare, with the consent of the consumer
- arrange support services such as respite care, counselling and community nursing facilities, with the consent of the consumer
- exchange information with those providing treatment concerning the consumer’s lifestyles and their relationship with others, with the consent of the consumer
- put information concerning family relationships and any matters relating to the mental state of the consumer to health service providers
- seek further opinions regarding the diagnosis and care of the consumer
- place limits on your availability to consumers
- avenues to lodge complaints
- help with your own difficulties, which may have been generated by the process of caring for or acting as an advocate for a consumer.
Your responsibilities as a carer of a consumer of the mental health service are to:
- respect the human worth and dignity of the person who has a mental health problem or mental disorder
- consider the opinions of professional and other staff and recognise their skills in providing care and treatment for the person who has a mental health problem or mental disorder
- cooperate, as much as possible, with programs of treatment and care aimed at returning the consumer to optimal personal autonomy
- obtain appropriate professional assistance if the consumer has a child and there is reason to believe that the child may have a mental health problem or disorder
- respect the treating team and do not use violent or threatening behaviour toward them.