A final report arising from research conducted by Jacqui O’Riordan and Carol Kelleher of UCC into the experiences of families caring for someone with mental health issues was recently published. The research was conducted between March and October 2015, in conjunction with the Cork branch of Family Carers Ireland. The research project was funded by the Irish Research Council under the New Foundations Grant Scheme 2014.
The report, titled “A Fine Balance: Mental Health and Family Caring”, examined the experiences and needs of carers and care recipients, the specific difficulties each faced and the sometimes different perspectives of carer and care recipient. It highlights the complexity of the caring situations involving mental health difficulties, and how, in comparison with other types of illness, this care is often invisible. It also examines the psychological and emotional impact of living with mental illness, the impact on life opportunities such as education and employment, and the negative effect a continuing stigma associated with mental illness has on social connectedness. The report concludes that the financial, social and personal costs associated with ongoing caring in these situations are not sufficiently recognised or addressed by current supports or policy. It makes a specific set of recommendations, including:
• Criteria for receipt of carer’s allowance should recognise and accommodate those caring for someone with mental health difficulties.
• Community services should be funded and trained to recognise, address and support the interdependent nature of family care
• Carers and care recipients should be consulted in the development of strategies and services
• There should be accessible channels for family carers and care recipients managing mental health issues to articulate their specific experiences and seek support
• A range of community services should be developed to engage young people with mental health issues
• Work to increase awareness of the realities and prevalence of mental health issues, and to challenge stigmas associated with it, should continue
The full report can be read here (PDF, 1MB).