There are an estimated 6.5 million carers in the UK today supporting a child, friend, neighbour, partner or parent or a combination of these who are disabled, frail or seriously ill. They work alongside professionals, volunteers, care homes, special schools and community groups providing invaluable support and help, whether this is for physical or mental health problems. The hours of care that they provide often comes at a significant cost to their own health and well-being and this cannot be underestimated. The mental health needs of carers, which includes emotional stress, depressive symptoms and, in some cases, clinical depression, is often neglected, despite many carers having poor mental health. Mental health statistics for carers shows that:
- 71% of carers have poor physical or mental health.
- Carers UK’s annual survey (2015) of over 5,000 carers across the UK revealed that 84% of carers feel more stressed, 78% feel more anxious and 55% reported that they suffered from depression as a result of their caring role, which was higher than findings in 2014.
- 38% of young carers report having a mental health problem, yet only half report receiving additional support from a member of staff at school.
Examples and resources
IAPT services will and should play a vital role in supporting carers with their mental health needs which are evident from the above statistics. We did not find many examples of IAPT services working with carers during our research but have highlighted a couple of examples and resources below.
The step 1 wellbeing service developed a new carers session during COVID to support carers, linking in with the carers support network. Workshops offer both techniques and meditations alongside more practical support around allowances and emergency planning. Four virtual workshops have been run each month since March 2020 with 12 carers max per session. 1-2-1 sessions are also being offered to carers, with outcome measures for their depression. They are offered the opportunity to move to step 2 or 3 therapy if they need it.
The borough delivers mental health awareness training to the Carers Trust.
- Thrive guidance to support carers here: https://www.good-thinking.uk/coronavirus/advice-for/parents-carers-general-advice/
- Carers UK gives carers expert advice, information and support.
- Family Lives provide parenting advice and support