Looking after someone with a mental health problem – such as depression, schizophrenia or dementia – is often very difficult. A study has shown that these carers are more likely to be stressed than other types of carer.
Health and Social Services
A GP is usually the first point of contact for people experiencing mental health problems and their carers. They can refer patients on to specialist services provided by the appropriate Community Mental Health Team, comprising health professionals and social workers. For emergency treatment you should go to the Accident and Emergency department.
The type of service provided will vary depending on the nature of the person’s illness, but broadly falls into two categories:
- ‘talking treatments’ such as counselling, psychotherapy and psychoanalysis
- drug-based therapies
Some form of occupational therapy is also often used.
If you need advice on any health issue you can call NHS Direct (24-hours).
They can deal with urgent and non-urgent queries and give free, confidential advice on medical conditions and issues relating to the health service.
If the person you care for agrees to hospital treatment, they are a voluntary patient. If it is thought that hospital care is the most appropriate treatment, but the person you care for refuses to go, a compulsory admission is possible as outlined in the Mental Health Act. In such cases the person is sometimes said to be sectioned. This usually only happens after an assessment by two doctors and a social worker, who must consult with the person’s nearest relative (as specified in the Mental Health Act).
Southwark Carers works in conjunction with the Making Spaces Carers’ Support project. This project provides support, advice and information to people who care for a friend or relative with mental health problems. A Carers’ Support Group meets regularly and the project also offers free training through the Carers’ Education and Training Programme (CETP). The programme covers areas such as: causes and treatments of mental illness; rights, benefits and the law; working with professionals; managing difficult symptoms.
Rethink and MIND both produce a wide range of information on mental health related topics.
The Alzheimer’s Society is a good source of help for carers of people suffering from Alzheimer’s or any other form of dementia.
SANELINE provides listening and information for people with mental health problems and their carers.
The Mental Health Foundation is one of the UK’s leading charities working in mental health and learning disabilities.
Southwark Carers counselling service offers a free and confidential service to carers.
The Samaritans provide confidential emotional support through their 24-hour telephone service.