SUPPORT in Mind Scotland and the National Mental Health Carers Forum is using Carers Week 2016 (6-12 June) to launch a campaign to raise awareness of the rights of people who care for friends and relatives who experience mental health problems and mental illness – mental health carers. 

The Forum - comprisiing Support in Mind Scotland, GAMH (Glasgow Association for Mental Health), UCI (User and Carer involvement), Edinburgh Carers Council and the Carers Trust - has produced a briefing paper which will be circulated to MSPs as part of the campaign. You can view or download the paper by clicking HERE.

One in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives and 1 in 100 of the population will experience schizophrenia, psychosis or another serious illness.

Such serious conditions do not just impact on the individuals who experience them; but also on the relatives and friends who support them, with carers experiencing their own mental and physical health problems brought on by living with constant stress and anxiety for themselves and their loved one.

“The emotional trauma of watching my son spiral out of control, suffering, scared and tormented was too much at times. The constant trauma and stigma of trying to get help and dealing with the services, along with living with the illness left me feeling alone, isolated and unable to seek help”.(mother caring for her son with schizophrenia)

The carers’ support organisations that comprise the National Mental Health Carers Forum asked carers to describe these issues and they included the unpredictability of fluctuating periods of illness; isolation and reluctance to ask for help due to the stigma attached particularly to some serious mental illnesses; and the anxiety of living with the fear that the person they love may come to harm or even take their own lives.

Carers also spoke about the difficulty they face in understanding complex mental health legislation, particularly when their relative is detained against their will.

This Carers Week, we are calling for:

 

  • Recognition by politicians and decision-makers of the specific needs and rights of mental health carers so that they can ask for and be given the specialist help and support they need
  • Increased funding for specialist carers services who understand the specific rights mental health carers and their relatives have under mental health legislation
  • A legal Right to Independent Carers Advocacy for all carers caring for someone being treated under the mental health legislation.

 

We are also reaching out to hidden mental health carers to ask them to come forward and tell us about their experiences so that we can have a stronger collective voice in pressing for specialist mental health carers support.

To be part of this campaign get in touch with Support in Mind Scotland by calling 0131 662 4359 or contacting [email protected]