Millions of people around the world care for family members, friends or others in need of day-to-day assistance.
Here in Australia, 3 million people are occupied as carers. From the moment you establish a caring relationship, you play an important role in your patient’s life. Carers often take on new responsibilities without a support system. However, there is more than one way for individuals in this profession to understand the importance of mental health, such as experiential education or with HelpingMinds.
One of the obstacles that can come with the job, is managing finances. As a carer, you are eligible to be compensated for the hours you spend. In Australia especially, carers are integral to “the foundation of our aged, disability, palliative and community care systems.” Medicaid is the most common source for payment in certain countries. With a high percentage of carers being unpaid, eliminating the issue can be a big help to de-stress and make the most of your time. It is especially important when you’re establishing a balance between your role and overall health as an individual vs. being a carer. It is common to request assistance to help reduce the financial burden as an informal carer. In Australia, the Department of Human Services offers a list of Centrelink payments, to support income if you provide care in your home for your mother, father, sister or brother.
The Power Of Self Care
It is OK to put yourself first and prioritise your mental health. It will make a difference in how you take on the day and to the quality of care you're able to provide. Around 45%, or almost half of the Australian population, will experience a mental illness in their life according to Black Dog Institute. As a carer who may work more than 15 hours a day, life can become emotionally and physically taxing on your body. The best way to avoid taking on illnesses and staying positive is ensuring you look after yourself. A lot of emotional energy is involved in your job, so finding ways to de-stress is imperative. HelpingMinds is one of many safe spaces for carers to share feelings and thoughts; the support group offered is focused on a carer's perspective. In addition to attending a group, stress reducing activities like gardening or meditation can also have a positive effect on your well-being.
Why Your Mental Health Matters
As a carer, your role is important because you’re able to explore diagnosis with others who may have a mental illness. Learning how to not emotionally take on the issues of your patients, determines what kind of care and support you provide, along with ways you plan on assisting with transitions. As a carer, one of your day-to-day responsibilities may be to go to doctor’s appointments like psychiatrists or GPs. By being there, you have the opportunity to learn about the general information of their illness, medications and treatments. By knowing what is happening first-hand, you’re not only prepared, but better equipped to provide a level of ease to their mind and protect yours.
A carer's job is never easy, and can lead to depression and anxiety if steps are not taken to look after your own health. However, with the right resources, carers are able to monitor their emotional well-being so that they can provide a fulfilling experience to those they care for.
This article was kindly written and contributed by Cassie Steele.