As a carer, it is important to look after yourself, you are as worthy of love and care as the person you care for. Your ability to look after others will be affected if your own health and well-being are not prioritised. Telling your GP that you are an unpaid carer will help them to understand and support you better.
Prioritise your own health:
- Self-help care and advice on the NHS Choices website.
- Recognise your stress triggers and know how to manage stress in your daily life.
- Counselling and other talking therapy services' can be helpful if you need someone to listen.
Why good mental health is important.
Carers often put their own needs last. But remember – the better your physical and emotional wellbeing, the better you will be able to cope with the demands of caring.
What support is available?
There are lots of organisations providing services that can help you. Browse your local support options and identify the right organisations and services to support you. Below are some useful guides, websites and resources that can also support you to take care of yourself.
Having good mental health helps us relax more, achieve more and enjoy our lives more. It is important to speak to somebody if you find that you are struggling to maintain your mental health, it is not a sign of failure, it is a recognition that you are human.
- If you think you're in immediate danger of hurting yourself or someone else, call 999.
- If you've already hurt yourself, go to the nearest Accident and Emergency department.
- If you already use local mental health services, your care plan will include details of what to do and who to contact if you are unwell. If you've already been given a Crisis Line number, call it.
- The Samaritans offer a 24-hour helpline on 116 123 for confidential, non-judgmental, emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including those which may lead to suicide.
Middlesbrough and Stockton Mind (01642 257020) provide a range of services and self-help tools.
They offer a Carers and Families Well-Being Service. "The service consists of two Carers' Well-Being Practitioners. My role is to support parents/carers of children under the age of 18. My colleague, Renee Brady, supports parents/carers of adults over the age of 18. She works with adult carers who have accessed the Crisis Team." Shazana Arshad-Ali, Carers' Well-Being Practitioner at Middlesbrough & Stockton Mind
Redcar & Cleveland Mind (01642 296052)
A dedicated Mental Health Practitioner will offer support for carers experiencing problems with mental health or for those caring for someone with a mental health condition. The support on offer will include:
- 1-1 Support utilising a Road to Recovery mental health support model
- Group support such as peer support, therapeutic interventions and risk management
- A range of groups/training to build resilience and understanding of mental health conditions
- Mental health support specific to young carers and parent carers
Anxiety UK- (03444 775 774) charity providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Boro Man Can is created by Middlesbrough Men (whether they work, rest or play here). It features real Boro Men's stories, to inspire hope and action for other Boro Men to live longer, function and feel better.
Calm- The Campaign Against Living Miserably (0800 58 58 58). Mental health support for men aged 15-35.
Childline (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
Every Mind Matters website has expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.
IAPT- Improving Access to Psychological Therapies. The NHS gateway to psychological therapies. If you live in England and are registered with a GP, you can self refer to this service. services offer:
- talking therapies, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), counselling, other therapies, and guided self-help
- help for common mental health problems, like anxiety and depression
Insight Timer- a smartphone app and online community for meditation. The app features guided meditations, music and talks posted by contributing experts. There is an option to pay to access more resources however the app has plenty of content which is regularly updated to avoid the need to pay.
Mental Health Foundation- Information and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Mind (0300 123 3393). A mental health charity raising awareness and providing support and advice to anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Their website also contains a wealth of information about how to get help, your rights, sectioning, discrimination and more.
PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
Kooth is a fantastic, free and confidential, online support tool for young people to access mental health support and counselling.
Rethink Mental Illness. A charity helping people affected by severe mental illness through a network of local groups and services. Their website has a great deal of information, including how to get help when you are in crisis.
Sane. Emotional support, information and guidance for people affected by mental illness, as well as their families and carers.
Shout. A free text messaging support service for anyone who is struggling to cope. Their specially trained volunteers are available over text 24hrs a day, seven days a week. 85258- text only.
TEWV (Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust) provide a range of services including their free crisis telephone line: Those in mental distress, including children and older people, can now contact their local crisis service on freephone number 0800 0516 171.
YoungMinds. Information on child and adolescent mental health. They also offer a helpline for parents who are concerned about their child's mental health. Parent helpline- 0808 802 5544.
Action's for Happiness
Action for Happiness is a movement of people committed to building a happier and more caring society. They are backed by leading experts from diverse fields including psychology, education, economics and social innovation.
Our genes influence about 50% of the variation in our personal happiness, our circumstances (like income and environment) affect only about 10%. 40% is accounted for by our daily activities and the conscious choices we make. This shows that our daily actions can really make the difference!
The Action for Happiness movement has identified 10 keys to achieving happiness:
- Do things for others
- Connect with others
- Take care of your body
- Live life mindfully
- Keep learning new things
- Have goals to look forward to
- Find ways to bounce back
- Look for what's good
- Be comfortable with who you are
- Be part of something bigger.
Have a look at their monthly calendars which are packed with small actions you can take to help create a happier and kinder world.
Breathing techniques are shown to help to relieve stress. Box Breathing is a really simple yet effective tool that you can try easily with no equipment or preparation required.
Box Breathing is a tool advocated by Dr Chatterjee who states it 'helps lower stress levels, calm the nervous system and take your mind away from distracting throughs'. Give it a go, you don't need any equipment other than yourself. Breathe in for 4 seconds. Hold for 4 seconds. Breathe out for 4 seconds. Hold for 4 seconds and repeat for as long as you like. If a 4 second count is too long for you try 3 or whatever you can manage.
Take a look at activity packs available from MVDA. One has been created for carers and one for volunteers. The activities included are perfect for taking time out for yourself and having some well deserved 'me time'.