Without this change in support, caregivers face the risk of developing mental illness. A Health Canada survey from 2002 found that two percent of Canadians provide care to a loved one with mental illness. Out of those two percent, around 6 out of 10 were employed while also providing care. As Louise Bradley, president of the Mental Health Commission, explains, caregivers who are looking after loved ones with mental illness are often face difficulty attending work on a daily basis and dealing with finances and as a result, their own mental health is often impacted. Bradley explains that part of the issue is that mental illness is not regarded the same way as other health problems. For example, in a case where a caregiver is caring for someone with cancer, it is widely accepted and understood while if a caregiver is caring for someone who is facing an episode of severe depression, the same compassion is often not provided. The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s recent report shares guidelines on how to fight this stigma and better support those who are caring for a loved one with mental illness. The report includes recommendations such as providing web and telephone resources for rural Canadians and taking a closer look at the system of financial support offered to caregivers by all levels of government. The report also calls for increased training and resources to ensure that medical professionals who are handling the care of mentally ill patients recognize and support the role of their caregivers. System planners, policy makers and service providers are the stated targets of the report’s guidelines.
For the full report: http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/node/8601/