We know what you’re going through and provide connection, advice and support when you’re caring for someone with mental health problems.

“Being a carer is very taxing. And when you’re a carer, it can be hard to think about yourself and what you want, now and in the future,” says Naomi Glickman, Jami’s carers service lead. This is why Jami supports families and those caring for people with mental health problems, as well as the person with mental illness. As Naomi explains: “You may not necessarily be living with that person. A carer is anyone who is emotionally connected to a person with mental health issues.”

Jami recognises that there is still a stigma around mental health. Naomi says: “Carers can become very isolated because people judge you and often friends don’t come round. You don’t get any time for yourself.” Jami’s Carer and Family Support service aims to alleviate this.

Widening our reach

Our carer-led service is supported by a team of staff and volunteers who provide one-to-one and group support, in person, by phone or on video calls. Indeed, as Naomi explains: “Eighty per cent of contact with carers is now via Zoom, telephone or WhatsApp. Many people prefer this.” It also means that the service can be accessed by people living abroad. Naomi substantiates this. “The team works with the whole family, even if they aren’t living in the country. We work with people living anywhere from Hendon to Haifa.” However, for those carers who do want face-to-face contact, there are groups they can attend in our hubs or at Head Room Café.

Jami runs a range of support groups for carers so that they can share experiences with others going through a similar experience. And for those carers who do not have access to any other support, these groups may be their only lifeline. They vary from all-male groups to those specifically for women; and from carers of people living with an eating disorder to parents of children with ADHD and autism. Naomi says: “Some of the groups are really powerful. People may open up about things they’ve never told anyone else before and that may have been impacting them for decades.

Linking carers with additional support

In addition to these groups, Jami’s Carer and Family Support service also signposts carers to further services that Jami and other organisations offer. These include Jami’s Advocacy service, which helps carers navigate the mental health care system and access health and social care services, and Jami’s Education programme, which runs online courses, seminars and events to increase mental health literacy. Should a carer become unwell themselves, the team can also put them in touch with Jami’s Befriending service, which matches individuals with a volunteer to provide practical support and friendship if they are feeling lonely and isolated.

Showing empathy in our interactions

Having all been carers themselves, Naomi and her team are well qualified to provide guidance and support to any person caring for someone with mental illness. “The carers we see feel that we better understand them and what they’re going through because of our own caring experiences,” explains Naomi. “We’re very good at listening and being empathetic. People’s stories are rarely straightforward and we’re never shocked,” she adds.
“We’re very lucky as a team to be able to do the work we do,” says Naomi, speaking on behalf of her colleagues. “It’s always very meaningful.”