Mental Health Carers Support
What is a 'carer'?
A carer is someone who provides unpaid help and support to a family member or relative, partner, friend or neighbour who needs help because of their age, physical or mental illness, addiction or disability. Families and friends have always helped each other in this way, but in the last couple of decades, services have started to use the word 'carer' to refer to the person who gives such help.
The contribution carers make is now part of the government's policies. Carers save the government an enormous amount of money by doing what they do. In return, many carers can claim a Carer's Allowance, and most carers have the right to a needs assessment to see if they need any other support, such as proper respite or holiday (see 'Carer's assessment'). There are several laws about carers' rights and how they should be supported. But many carer organisations think carers need more help, and the people we interviewed agreed.
Caring for someone with a mental health problem can be particularly challenging for many reasons such as:
- Difficult behaviour or changes in the unwell person
- Finding support that suits carers and the person cared for
- The attitude others have to mental health
- Information sharing with professionals because of patient confidentiality