When people need help with their day-to-day living they often turn to their family and friends. Looking after each other is something that we do.
Caring for someone with a mental health condition can be physically and emotionally challenging and exhausting. Caring for or supporting someone close to you probably only describes part of your relationship with them and this can add additional strain to your ability to cope. And while most people providing unpaid care to a family member or friend would probably say that they are just being a husband or wife, a parent or child, a friend or a good neighbour, the impact of caring – on your own health, work, finances and relationships – should not be underestimated.
Caring for or supporting someone can mean you are doing a variety of different tasks on a regular basis – from supporting them with practical care such as cooking, cleaning and taking them to appointments, to providing emotional support and responding to crisis situations.
Providing care and support to someone who wants it is challenging enough, but there may also be times when they will not accept that there is an issue or that they need help. It can be frustrating and worrying and – given the invisibility of the illness – hard to imagine that you are making a difference.
Supporting someone else can affect your own mental health. Although you want to help them, you may find it upsetting and experience feelings of helplessness and despair, and even if you don’t feel you have the time to do this, seeking support for yourself and making time for yourself is essential.