10th October is World Mental Health Day – a yearly event dedicated to raising awareness of mental health. As the number of people living with a mental health condition continues to rise, it is vital that we become more educated about mental health and break down the stigma that often surrounds it.
A lot of attention is given to well-known factors that can make people vulnerable to becoming mentally ill. There may be personal issues such as a pre-existing condition, bullying or abuse, the loss of a loved one, relationship breakdowns; or a mental health condition may arise through the stress of experiencing a large-scale emergency such as conflict or a natural disaster.
However, there is a lesser-known reason that can be attributed to the onset or aggravation of mental health conditions. It is such a well-hidden secret that this reason is often not acknowledged at all. This trigger is the role of caregiving. All too often in our work we listen to carers who have become depressed, anxious or withdrawn due to immediate worries or the longer term consequences of caregiving. Common concerns which can escalate into mental health disorders include:
- persistent worrying about the wellbeing of the loved one they are caring for
- not being able to provide financial security for the person they care for, including not being able to purchase necessary medication for them
- becoming isolated from families and friends
- having to give up careers, hobbies and interests
It should come as no surprise that when faced with the issues described above 77% of carers who we work with identify as living with anxiety and/or depression. Our work focuses on creating conditions that can alleviate some of these burdens including creating economic opportunities, and establishing carer groups so worries can be discussed among an understanding peer group.
The theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day is “mental health of young persons” so a special thought should be given to our young carers whose mental health is put at risk from their caring duties. Ramanjinamma, a young carer from India, knows first-hand how caring can impact a child’s mental wellbeing and she has kindly shared her story with us for you to watch. Before we started our work with child carers in India and Nepal, there was no external support available, causing many to deal with feelings of anxiety and depression on their own. We have introduced several mechanisms such as offering respite opportunities and creating child carer groups which helps to tackle the mental burden of being a young carer.
Please enable us to protect the mental wellbeing of carers by supporting us today.