Carers at highest risk of mental health problems

By Mariam Digges

Carers at highest risk of mental health problems
Millions of informal carers are at risk of developing health issues, with 37 per cent reporting severe depression.

Millions of informal carers are at risk of developing health issues, according to new research presented at the 48th APS Annual Conference.

Those who provide support and care to family members or friends with mental health issues need more adequate support to avoid creating a further group of people with disability.

Deakin University psychology researcher Thomas Hammond claims that a survey of 4,096 informal carers conducted in 2007 found that 37 per cent of carers reported experiencing severe to extremely severe symptoms of stress and depression.

Caring for long periods of time, supporting multiple family members or children, and assisting someone with multiple medical conditions or a mental illness were associated with the lowest wellbeing scores and increased severity of depression and stress.

Mr Hammond says, “Despite the considerable benefits of informal caring for those who require care, and the social and economic benefits for the wider community, there is a substantial cost.  More often than not it is the carers who pay the price.”

“We put someone in the position of carer, expecting them to function at their best in order to assist the person in their life who needs care. But when carers suffer stress and depression we have another person with a different type of disability,” he continued.

“Who is going to care for the carers?”

While organisations such as Carers Ausralia provided some support, there was a greater urgent need for more support systems to turn around the situation.

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