Caring for a loved one with mental-ill health during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic and new social distancing measures have resulted in more Australians staying indoors and limiting their normal daily routine. This is not an easy situation for anyone to manage, however for over 240,000 people in Australia who are unpaid mental health carers, it can be even harder.
We have spoken to our counsellors and support workers and have compiled a comprehensive list of top tips to manage the self-isolation and social distancing guidelines, to keep yourself and the person you care for, stay calm and safe.
Self-care and coping strategies
- Keep up with your own coping strategies as a carer by taking time for yourself.
- We have a whole blog post dedicated to self care and looking after your own mental health during COVID-19, read it here.
Maintain healthy communication and coping strategies in your Carer role
- As much as possible, continue with your normal routine to maintain consistency and certainty for the person you are caring for.
- Ensure that they are following their normal plan such as taking their medications at the same time, eating at normal mealtimes, following their safety and wellness plans etc.
- Try to limit the amount of news and social media they have access to and, instead, use that time to engage in another activity together such as a board game, a walk in your garden, bird spotting etc.
- Give each other space, move to different rooms at various times during the day so that you can have some time alone.
- Join the carer forum online to speak with other mental health carers across the state in similar situations. You are not alone.
- If you need help with communication or coping strategies while engaging with the person you are caring for, please give HelpingMinds a call to help you with this situation. The current COVID-19 circumstances can possibly trigger and escalate mental health conditions and symptoms.
- Developing safe, calm and effective communication strategies is key to keeping yourself and them safe and well.
- If you haven’t heard from your family member in a while, give them a call to check in.
Difficulty with mental health units or services
- You can phone the HelpingMinds Advocacy team for assistance if you are stuck with (hospital) discharge planning for your family member.
- You can call our Advocacy experts if you are experiencing obstacles and barriers to communications in a mental health unit, hospital or community mental health services.
If the person you care for becomes unwell or begins to decline
- When you have a fear of violence or are experiencing a violent situation due to your family member’s mental illness, please call 000.
- If someone is mentally unwell and you are uncertain of the care they need, then contact Mental Health Emergency Response Line (MHERL) for advice. Perth metro 1300 555 788, Rural Link 1800 552 002, Peel Residents (Mandurah/Rockingham) 1800 676 822.
- If drugs or alcohol are the primary instigator of the mental health episode (volatile and aggressive behaviour are key indicators) please seek advice from Alcohol and Drug Services or call the Alcohol & Drug Support Line on (08) 9442 5000 or 1800 198 024.
If you need help..
HelpingMinds is providing free emotional support services to anyone in Western Australia and Northern Territory who feels overwhelmed by the current COVID-19 situation or their personal circumstances.
Through HelpingMinds you can access 3x free phone or video counselling sessions with a mental health professional, without the need for a GP referral.
You can make an appointment between 8.30am – 4.30pm, Mon to Fri. Appointments for phone and video counselling are available between 7am and 7pm. Call HelpingMinds on 1800 811 747.
Online Forums SANE forums for Carers (staffed 24/7 by mental health professionals)
Helplines Lifeline: 13 11 14 (24/7 crisis support)
BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 (24/7 support)
Headspace: 1800 650 890 (youth support, 9am – 1am)
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (24/7 kids support)
1800 Respect: 1800 737 732 (24/7 domestic violence support)
MensLine: 1300 78 99 78 (24/7 mental health support for men)
Qlife: 1800 184 527 (support for LGBTQI+ Australians, 3pm – 12am)
SANE Help Centre: 1800 187 263 (anyone 10am – 10pm, Monday – Friday)