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help for carers

Caring for and about someone with mental illness can be very demanding on you in many ways - emotionally, physically and perhaps financially

Learning how to support someone with a mental illness will help not only the person who is ill, but also you, other family members and friends.

Who is a carer?

A carer is someone of any age who looks after or supports a family member, partner, friend or neighbour in need of help because they are ill, frail or have a disability.

A carer is anyone who has had to change his or her lifestyle in order to care for and/or take responsibility for another who is experiencing mental health problems.

A carer does not necessarily live with the person who is ill. A carer is not paid for providing care and support, although there may be financial assistance available. Our Mental Health and Money Advice service might be able to help you with any financial worries impacting your mental health.

As a family member, friend or relative, you may be described as an ‘informal Carer’.

A carer may also be a cared for person.

Carers’ rights and legislation

One of the difficulties for the Carers, friends and relatives of someone who is affected by mental illness is knowing what legislation is relevant to them and the person they care for.

A range of terms is used to describe a person who cares for another, including ‘unpaid Carer’, ‘Carer’, ‘family Carer’ and ‘informal Carer’. The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 defines ‘Carer’ as: “an individual who provides or intends to provide care for another individual (the “cared-for person”).”

The Carers Scotland (2016) Act was passed by the Scottish Government in February 2016 and unlike the previous definition of carers, the Act does not define carers by the number of hours that they care for someone. The Act makes it easier for unpaid Carers who meet eligibility criteria to be identified for requiring support in their caring duties so that they can continue to care in good health.

Under the new Carers Act, all Carers are entitled to access a support plan if they think it would be beneficial. Our Carer Support services can help you through this process and to consider what matters to you, what is important to you and what might help. Some services, like short breaks, may require an Adult Carer Support Plan or Young Carer Statements from their local authority. The Act also ensures that young Carers are not disadvantaged and still have a childhood like their peers.

For more detailed information on Caring and accessing support including financial assistance, visit the Carers Scotland guide: ‘Looking after someone’.

Looking after your mental health

Caring often involves putting our own needs aside. However, it is important that we look after ourselves and our own mental health so that we may continue to care for others. This might be making sure we get enough sleep or eat properly, talking to someone in confidence about our experiences or it may be something long term like financial support or a new hobby.

Our services

Change Mental Health provides direct buildings-based and outreach services in many parts of Scotland and a central helpline to signpost you to relevant support that most fits your needs. We run the Carer Support service in Edinburgh, Highland, Dumfries and Galloway, Tayside and Fife.

These services vary from location to location and may include vocational support, outreach support, Carer support, youth outreach support, computer training, life skills courses, confidential one-to-one support, group support, information and advice.

To find the right support for you, contact our Information and Support Line.

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