Feeling uncomfortable talking about ourselves or mental illness...

Often we feel inhibited about talking to people because of the stigma that is associated with mental illness. Somehow we need to break down these barriers or they will continue to persist. Talking is a therapeutic exercise in itself and maybe we should start by talking to our G.P. who should not have a problem with stigma. By initiating this conversation we are also helping the doctor to recognise us as a carer (there should be a register of carers in the practice - make sure your name is on it) and so alerting him/her to potential extra stress, which may result in our own health suffering as a consequence. All too frequently carers ignore the warning signs indicating deterioration in their own health. We will be unable to continue caring if we become ill ourselves.

Like any other group of people, carers want to be able to work and have their own leisure time. All too often these things, which most people take for granted, are denied because of the burden of the caring role. However, it is being increasingly recognised that unless these options remain open to them, carers will become less able to cope with the demands placed upon them. There are services and agencies which can help carers. A Carers' Assessment should help to identify where the carer needs support and where to access that support.

Practical advice on looking after you...

  • Do find someone to talk to, to let off steam yourself - another carer, a support group, a professional who can listen to you / help you / advise you on caring for your loved one. As a peer-led organisation here at CAUSE, we should be a first port of call for you in talking to us about your experiences and getting support. • Know what other help you can get: your rights and entitlements. Knowing what is out there to support you and what help you can access is crucial.  It can be one of the first steps in effectively managing everyday as a carer. For more information, please refer to Section 2 of this guide on Carers’ benefits and entitlements.
  • Take a break to recharge your batteries. You will need it! Have a carer’s assessment - it's a legal right - it can help you to identify where help and support may be available to further enhance your ability to care and to help you stay well yourself. It may be difficult to go through this process (for example, admitting how much you actually do) but it should help you to resolve things in a more positive light.
  • Learning how to manage stress; this is one of the biggest problems carers can face in dealing with pressurised situations at home.  At CAUSE, we offer a range of services to support you as we understand the stresses involved in caring on many fronts.

Here are some links to practical stress management resources for you:

The Carers UK website has a dedicated section on coping with stress and depression www.carers.uk.org

Steps for Stress: guide to stressing less and enjoying life more http://www.stepsforstress.org/

BBC Health: managing stress http://www.bbc.co.uk 

  • Be aware of your own physical and emotional needs and your quality of life.  You cannot do everything… Think about your wellbeing in the broader sense and look at some simple things you could do to make time for yourself as a person as well as a carer. 
  • Get more balance between your work and caring. For many carers, it is a financial necessity to combine work and caring in order to support their household.  You do have rights as a carer to flexible working to help you juggle work and care. 

Flexible working can allow employees to manage both their work and caring responsibilities. The Work and Families Act 2006 (The Work and Families (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 in Northern Ireland) gives carers the right to request changes to their working patterns to better manage their caring. The request can cover changing hours, times or places of work.

We have put some links below to practical advice and your rights as a carer and employee:

www.nidirect.gov.uk Provides information on flexible working, work life balance, time-off for dependents, caring for someone while working.

www.carersuk.org Provides detailed information on your right to flexible working and getting support at work to cope with your caring role.

If you have a specific query on a work situation and your rights as a carer, contact the Labour Relations Agency (LRA). Telephone: 028 9032 1442 http://www.lra.org.uk/index.htm


For further information, please call us on 028 90 650 650 or email: [email protected]