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Supporting someone you are caring for with a mental disorder

Drawing of a man brooming inside an head

Supporting someone you are caring for with a mental disorder

Supporting someone you are caring for who has a mental disorder is an ongoing concern.

Ten tips to support you and the person you are caring for and many practical tools to help you access treatment and services.

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A shared disorder

The 2022–2026 Mental Health Action Plan (in French only) focuses on supporting the family and circle of persons with a mental disorder. It recognizes the need to:

  • provide families with the necessary resources and to take into account their experience;
  • support the many young people who have a family member or friend living with a mental disorder;
  • train stakeholders to accompany families.

This means that caregivers are recognized for their role. They are encouraged to recognize their role in the recovery of the person they are caring for, to get the tools they need and to seek services.

Ten tips to support yourself

  1. Have a frank and open conversation with the person you care for about their illness (diagnosed or not) and their experiences;
  2. Respect their pace. The person may not want to talk about it at first;
  3. Ask the person if they require help in certain aspects of their life. If so, find out what tasks you can realistically do within your limits and what tasks could be assigned to other people around you. A council of family and friends might be a good idea;
  4. Define objective criteria for your sleep, diet, energy level, mood and what to do when they are lacking: confide in a friend, take a walk outdoors, join a support group, consult your doctor;
  5. Entrust some tasks to the community: pillboxes can be prepared by the pharmacist, a taxi can be called or other types of services;
  6. Regularly update the needs of the person concerned: perhaps they required help with meal preparation at a time when they were particularly disorganized, but once they have stabilized, they are able to resume this task for themselves;
  7. Don’t let the pressure build up too high! Express your emotions regarding the changing and unstable mental health situation of the individual you are caring for;
  8. Avoid “over-helping.” A human being’s sense of accomplishment comes from being able to respond and act;
  9. Adopt a caring and compassionate attitude toward both yourself and the person you care for;
  10. Seek help when you are confronted with the symptoms of the person you care for and feel helpless. There are many practical tools available.

Young caregivers

In Québec and elsewhere, it is estimated that one in five young people has someone near to them with a mental disorder. Reconciling education and caregiving can be a major challenge.

The Plan d’action interministériel en santé mentale 2022-2026 — S’unir pour un mieux-être collectif (2022–2026 Mental Health Action Plan [in French only]) plans to create conditions that are favourable to the well-being of young people impacted by mental disorders, particularly young caregivers, with an innovative approach by and for young people across Québec.

It’s possible to develop and remain on track. Like Joany, Dave and Marie in the documentary Garder le Cap by CAP santé mentale, there are resources to support them. Organizations such as LaPProche and the CAP santé mentale offer specific content for young people who are caring for someone close to them: for example, the guide When Your Parent has a Mental Illness.

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Need to talk?

Contact our Caregiver Support Helpline for counselling, information and referrals.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Free of charge.

call  Caregiver info :  1 855 852-7784