Who Cares for the Carers?
28 May 2013 at 11:23 am
As many as seven out of 10 people caring for someone living with a mental illness are suffering high levels of mental distress, according to a new report.
The Hunter Institute of Mental Health has launched the Supporting those who Care: Partners in Depression National Program Outcomes report, showing what it says is the ‘severe impact’ on the mental health and wellbeing of carers and the need for carer-focussed prevention programs.
“More than 70 per cent of people who live with or care for someone with depression that we encounter through Partners in Depression record high levels of psychological distress – indicating the need for immediate help,” she said.The report found 2.6 million, or 12 per cent of Australians, care for someone living with mental illness, and with an estimated 20 per cent expected to experience depression at some stage in their lives.
Director of the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, Jaelea Skehan, said the people who are caring for a loved one are often just an afterthought for mental health programs, despite being a group with a high risk of developing mental illnesses.
Skehan said the Partners in Depression program was able to be developed specifically for these individuals through a $1.5 million investment from Nib Foundation. She said preventative programs, such as Partners in Depression, were an essential component of a cost-effective approach to mental health.
“It is always better to prevent onset of mental illness, rather than having to pay more in the future to treat it,” she said.
Skehan said by assisting carers to develop skills to care for themselves, using a small proportion of the mental health budget, Australia would finally begin to repay its debt to carers and begin improving the mental health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities.
beyondblue CEO Kate Carnell AO said a summary of the six-paper research series co-funded by beyondblue on How can we best support those who care?, was also launched.
“This army of carers are the hidden heroes of Australia’s health system,” she said.
“Their all-encompassing role can often be overwhelming. This research shows they need support too.”
Carnell says programs like Partners in Depression are desperately required, as the cost of delivering mental health services continues to rise.
“The Case for Mental Health Reform in Australia: A Review of Expenditure and System Design report, endorsed by beyondblue, estimated direct health expenditure on mental illness to be at least $13.8 billion,” Carnell said.
The report can be downloaded here .