Caring responsibilities and mental health

Caring can bring a lot of positives, but it can also take a toll on your physical, emotional and mental health 

You are a carer if you spend time supporting someone who has a physical or mental health condition and you don’t get paid for this.
Caring can bring a lot of positives into your life. It can
  • bring you closer to the person you care for
  • improve your understanding of the issues other people face
  • make you more confident advocating for the needs of others as well as your own needs
But caring can also take its toll on your physical, emotional and mental health. If this happens, it’s important to get support.

Supporting someone with a mental health condition

There are different ways you can support someone who has a mental health condition. You can
  • help them manage practical everyday things, like paperwork, on days they aren’t able to
  • listen and talk to them, providing emotional support when they need it
  • make sure the person is still getting out socially and isn’t becoming isolated
  • offer practical support in their home or with their responsibilities if they need this
The mental health charity Mind has information about other ways you can support someone who has mental ill health.

Your mental health as a carer

Caring for someone is rewarding but it can often be challenging too.
You may feel
  • stressed or worried about the person you are caring for or about your own ability to keep caring for them
  • financial pressure if you are spending more or earning less because of your caring responsibilities
  • a lack of self-esteem if you’re spending all your time thinking about the other person and aren’t looking after your own needs
  • tired because you aren’t getting enough sleep, and lack of sleep can lead to other problems
It’s important to pay attention to how you feel and to get support if you are struggling. Talk to someone about how you are feeling. You can talk to

Mental health support

A key to protecting your mental health and wellbeing is to remember the 5 steps to wellbeing. Check out these ideas on integrating the 5 steps into your life each day.
Carers often put other people’s needs ahead of their own and that can lead to you becoming exhausted and burned out. Self-care is important. Practicing mindfulness and self-compassion can help you protect your on wellbeing.
Our Advocacy for All service can help if you or the person you are caring for is over 18 and has mental ill health. This service can
  • connect you with a mental health advocate
  • empower you to understand what choices are available to resolve issues around mental ill health
  • let you know about services that can support you
  • help you become more confident about speaking up for yourself or the person you care for

Support for carers

Carers NI has information and advice to support carers. This includes information on your rights to
  • financial support
  • respite care
  • equipment
  • flexibility from your employer
Check if your local trust has a support group for carers.
You might get financial support if you are caring for someone who is ill for at least 35 hours a week. Contact Make the Call to see if you are getting all the help you should be.

More resources