Mental Health
Campaign Launched To Help Carers of People with Mental Health Problems and Learning Disabilities
Jan 14, 2004 - 12:13:38 AM

Carers are the ‘invisible army’ that supports millions of relatives and friends who cannot look after themselves.
There are an estimated 6 million carers in the UK

13 million people can expect to become carers over the next decade

1 in 10 adults in the UK is a carer, and nearly half are men

80% of carers say that caring has had an adverse effect on their health
The Royal College of Psychiatrists and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers have joined together to mount a year-long campaign designed to help carers of people with mental health problems and learning disabilities.

The campaign will be launched on January 13th 2004 in the presence of Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. It will highlight the problems faced by carers of all ages, including children and adolescents, and will aim to encourage constructive partnerships between carers, patients and professionals.

Carers play a vital role in looking after, and promoting the well-being of, people with mental health problems and learning disabilities, and the campaign will emphasise that carers’ responsibilities need greater recognition.

Unfortunately, carers themselves can suffer from mental health problems, often because of lack of support. They need to know that specialist help is available for them.

Partners in Care plans a number of campaign activities during 2004, including a booklet on confidentiality; leaflets on mental health problems aimed at carers and also at the professionals who deal with them; a training video and CD-ROM; a booklet for young carers; a Christmas debate for young people; checklists for carers, patients and professionals to let them know what questions they need to ask; training for professionals; and regional and local activities to generate interest and help promote the campaign across the country.

“It is estimated that, overall, carers save the government £57 billion each year,” says Dr. Mike Shooter, President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and Co-Chair of the campaign. “Yet they struggle for recognition and help for themselves.

“Mental health professionals need to understand that carers carry the most intimate responsibility for the patient’s welfare. Their voice in decision making about

admission to hospital and discharge, for instance, is ignored at everyone’s peril – and yet so often is.”

Peter Tihanyi, Head of Policy at The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and the other Co-Chair of the campaign, believes that there is much to be done to improve communications between carers, those they care for, and professionals.

“By making a concerted effort to work together – to become true partners in care - we aim to make a real difference to the quality of life of carers,” he says. “It is our hope that this campaign will raise their profile and lead to better recognition and improved care for them.”

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