National guidelines for a comprehensive service system to support family caregivers of adults with mental health problems and illnesses

In brief

This report describes the needs of family caregivers – individuals who care for adult family members living with mental illness in Canada. It describes many of the major concerns and needs of these individuals and makes recommendations for support services and policies to better support the caregiving they provide and lessen the associated challenges. It also proposes an evidence-informed, comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of family caregivers.

The guidelines were developing using a three-part process that included a literature review, input from family caregivers, persons living with mental illness, and service providers, and suggestions from the Family Caregivers Advisory Committee, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and key stakeholders in different mental health areas.

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Read it below or download the PDF.

Title and link to report: National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses

Author: Penny MacCourt and the Family Caregivers Advisory Committee Mental Health Commission of Canada

Year of report: 2013

Location: Calgary, Alberta
Language of report: English

What this report is about

This report describes the needs of family caregivers – individuals who care for adult family members living with mental illness in Canada. It describes many of the major concerns and needs of these individuals and makes recommendations for support services and policies to better support the caregiving they provide and lessen the associated challenges. It also proposes an evidence-informed, comprehensive approach to meeting the needs of family caregivers.

Family caregivers who receive the support they need can improve the life of their ill relative. Adequate support can get rid of some of the stressors that often come with caring for an ill adult relative. When such supports are not there, it can jeopardize both their capacity to provide care and their own health and well-being. The unpaid care and support they provide is a major contribution to the health and social service system, and would cost considerably if it had to be replaced with paid formal services.

  • To provide the best possible care to an adult living with mental illness while sustaining their own well-being, family caregivers usually need:
  • To know that their relative is receiving appropriate care and has access to the services and supports that will maximize their potential for quality of life.
  • To have their relationships and caregiving roles recognized by mental health service providers and to be meaningfully involved in assessment and treatment planning.
  • To receive information and timely support from knowledgeable mental health service providers, including in improving their coping skills, so they can effectively provide care to their relative.
  • To have their personal needs outside of their caregiving role recognized and supported so they can sustain their own health and emotional wellbeing.

The guidelines were developing using a three-part process that included a literature review, input from family caregivers, persons living with mental illness, and service providers, and suggestions from the Family Caregivers Advisory Committee, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and key stakeholders in different mental health areas.

How can this report be used

System planners, policymakers, and service providers may find this report useful in planning, implementing, and evaluating mental health care services that recognize and address the needs of family caregivers.

Key words: Caregiving; mental health

Contact person/source:

Mental Health Commission of Canada

110 Quarry Park Blvd SE, Suite 320

Calgary, Alberta, T2C 3G3

http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca