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Unpaid carers play vital role in the mental health system

9 Oct 2020

Australia’s informal mental health carers struggle with exhaustion, feelings of hopelessness, and poor mental and physical wellbeing – but it doesn’t have to be this way.

With Carers Week (11-17 October) and Mental Health Week coinciding this year, the Queensland Mental Health Commission and Arafmi have joined forces to shine a light on mental health carers.

Mental Health Commissioner Ivan Frkovic said the week is about recognising and celebrating informal mental health carers and raising awareness about their role and the importance of their work.

“Informal mental health carers in Australia contribute around $13 billion dollars annually to the Australian economy,” he said.

“There is no care without carers, and our current system cannot function without them.

“Their countless hours of unpaid support make an enormous contribution to the lives of people with a mental illness.”

About 240,000 Australians are caring for someone with a mental illness – often their partner or child.

Many mental health carers report that almost 70 per cent of their role involves providing emotional support.

“The work mental health carers do is broad, but can involve anything from providing emotional support and encouragement as someone is getting back to school or work, to helping to manage crises when they occur,” Mr Frkovic said.

“Almost 50 per cent of family mental health carers have been caring for more than 10 years, and it’s important to highlight what support services are available so they can continue to perform their valuable work.”

Arafmi CEO Irene Clelland said 87 per cent of mental health carers reported feeling they had no time for themselves.

“Our carers need care too, and it’s essential that they are supported for their own mental health and wellbeing.

“Having a mental health carer can result in better recovery outcomes for a person with a mental illness – but being a carer can have significant impacts.

“In Queensland, 97 per cent of carers feel tired, stressed and fearful of the future. The key message for us is you’re not alone - help and support are available.

“This support can do two things. It can help with the carer’s personal wellbeing, but it can also connect them to others to create a sense of community and shared experience,” she said.

Find information about what Arafmi’s services here, and about National Carers Week at the Carers Queensland website.

Media: Queensland Mental Health Commission, Katie Rowney, 0419 787 551; Arafmi, Leanne Hardcastle, 3254 1881.

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