Caring for someone with a Mental Illness or Mental Health Problem or Disorder can be a challenge. Even now, for example, despite increased community education about the incidence, impacts and treatment of depression, there is still a lot of ignorance and stigma surrounding it and other mental illnesses such as Schizophrenia. You may find that there are still clear distinctions made between mental and physical illness. Sufferers and Carers may feel that their concerns are not listened to or that their problems are not taken as seriously as physical problems. This affects the Carer of the person with mental illness too and can make it difficult for Carers and the people they care for to seek help. It is well known that there is also a high incidence of depression and stress among Carers of people with Mental Illness.
There can also be challenges because the mental illness may be episodic in nature so that the continual stresses of being a Carer are not necessarily recognised or acknowledged by others sometimes including services that are meant to be there to help. Also, as the Carer/family member, you may see signs that the person you care for is becoming mentally unwell before others do. You may notice mood swings, withdrawal from family and friends, ongoing sadness, signs of repetitive or compulsive checking behaviour, anxiety, evidence of self-harm, deterioration in personal care to name a few. This can be extremely frustrating when trying to get help before the person deteriorates further. Navigating mental health services is also often not easy and is made more difficult if the person is reluctant to seek help.
On this web page we provide information about local mental health services and non-government agencies, as well as general information on mental illness from other web-based sources.
What is Mental Illness?
Mental Illness is a broad term that refers to a group of illnesses or disorders. Common mental illnesses include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder (manic-depressive illness), and personality and mood disorders. Mental illness significantly affects the way a person feels, thinks, behaves and interacts with other people. Mood and behaviour may also be unpredictable and vary dramatically from day to day.
See Important Links for specific information from SANE Australia on these and other mental illnesses and mental disorders. Other websites listed under Important Links also provide similar information as well as other resources and help for people with mental illness and their families/Carers.
Sydney Local Health District Mental Health Services provide a range of mental health assistance covering inpatient and community based mental health services. They include services for:
Inpatient services are provided at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's Professor Marie Bashir Centre and at the Concord Hospital's Concord Centre for Mental Health. Community Mental Health teams in community-based settings provide services out of health centres in Redfern, Camperdown, Marrickville, Croydon and Canterbury.
For more information about SLHD Mental Health Services go to: www.slhd.nsw.gov.au/MentalHealth/
Or; Phone 1800 011 511 the Mental Health Telephone Access Line (24 hours).
The non-government agency, Carer Assist is a service of the Schizophrenia Fellowship and is funded by NSW Health to provide information, education, advocacy and support specifically to Carers and family of people with mental illness who live in the Sydney Local Health District. Carer Assist works with SLHD Mental Health staff to address the needs of Carers and families of people with mental illness.
Phone 9708 2670 for help or go to their website under Important Links
Mental Health First Aid
Mental Health First Aid assists a person experiencing a mental health crisis, or who is developing a mental health problem, until professional treatment is obtained or the crisis resolves.
Mental Health First Aid provides useful ongoing strategies for Carers. Training programs are provided by Mental Health First Aid Australia (MHFA). Carers who attend these courses can learn common signs and symptoms of mental health problems, where and how to get help and what sort of help research shows to be effective. For training courses see Important Links:
Other Mental Health Organisations
There are other useful organisations that can help both Carers and the person with a mental illness. There are often specific web pages for Family and Carers on these sites. See Important Links