The Wesley Report
In the latest issue of The Wesley Report we examine the issues facing people who are caring for a family member with a mental health problem.
Mental health problems don’t just affect the sufferer. More than 85 per cent of carers report negative consequences for their own mental, physical and financial health. Many of these carers - particularly those in their teens - suffer in silence, eventually creating even more serious problems for their communities.
- looking after a relative with mental health issues exposes the caregiver to a range of risks, and deterioration in quality of life
Nearly half of caregivers (47 per cent) reported that looking after someone with a mental health issue had affected them “a lot”. Almost 90 per cent of respondents reported a negative impact on their physical and mental health; three quarters said their role had adversely affected their relationships with family and friends, and 57 per cent said their employment and financial situation had deteriorated. Of concern, almost one third of caregivers reported experiencing family violence as a result of their relationship with
the relative. Such negative effects increased with the length of time spent caregiving, and particularly affected women.
- caregivers who were exposed to a caring role under 16 years of age are at greatest risk of negative consequences
The impact felt by those who started caregiving when they were under 16 years of age is considerably higher than those who were exposed when they were older. The role affects their financial status, and mental and physical health. They are also more likely to have experienced stigma because of their association with a relative with a mental health issue. Those exposed to the caregiving role at an early age are also the ones most likely to be afraid to ask for help, despite the fact that they generally have positive attitudes towards health services when they do approach them.
- caring goes on for a long time
The majority (64 per cent) of carers had been in their caregiving role for more than six years and almost half (43 per cent) indicated that they had been caregiving for more than 10 years.
- many caregivers are still reluctant to seek help
While more than half (56 per cent) of caregivers had accessed support services, one third (36 per cent) reported that they had been afraid to ask for help, particularly those who had been caring for longer periods.
- Download The Wesley Report full version (3.01 MB PDF)
- Download the Executive Summary (747 KB PDF)
- See previous Wesley Reports
Implications for policy
Our latest study in The Wesley Report, Keeping minds well: Caring
till it hurts, makes a number of recommendations for action. Recognising the current work being done by state and federal governments, these recommendations identify further areas for attention, including education programs in schools, raising awareness in the health sector and acknowledging the contribution of the wider family in caring.