How can a caregiver help a relative with mental illness?
The need for supervision varies.
- Constant supervision: Persons who are chronically ill or who express suicidal thoughts and seem very depressed.
- Periodical supervision: To ensure that drugs are taken, personal hygiene is maintained and that there are no signs of depression.
- Minimal supervision: As patients become self-sufficient they can be trusted to function alone safely.
Derogatory criticism, taunting or disbelieving can have a traumatic effect on the mentally ill person who is in a very sensitive state. Arguing and harassing only adds to the stress and may lead to a return of acute symptoms.
Refrain from over-involvement
Sometimes the person being cared for may interpret interest and support as interference and meddling. In that case it is better to back off. Stand by in case of need, rather than getting involved actively.
Don’t exert social pressure
Do not try to make the person aware of social and financial responsibilities while undergoing treatment. Show that you believe in and value their efforts. As the person improves, he or she should be allowed to grow slowly into a realisation of abilities and responsibilities.
What are the factors related to caregiver satisfaction?(Kartalova-O’Doherty and Doherty, 2010)
Finding caring services. A caring psychiatrist plays a crucial role in caregiver satisfaction.
Being accepted as a partner in caring for the ill person. Satisfied caregivers see their role as an additional source of social support for rehabilitation or recovery for their relative. They feel this role is accepted by the mental health services.
- Supportive and non-intrusive relationships between carers and their ill relatives
- Supportive community. A supportive community is essential to reduce stigma associated with chronic mental illness.
- Suitable family support programmes. Caregivers are left to fend for themselves or when they give up, to leave their relatives at some soul-less 'home'.
- Avasthi A. Preserve and strengthen family to promote mental health. Indian J Psychiatry 2010;52:113-26
- Yulia Kartalova-O’Doherty and Donna Tedstone Doherty. Satisfied Carers of Persons With Enduring Mental Illness: Who and Why? Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2009 May; 55(3): 257–271. doi: 10.1177/0020764008093687.