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Caring for Someone Living with a Mental Illness

At Carers ACT, we understand that mental health caring has its similarities and its differences from other caring roles. We have an expert understanding of mental illness and the services available in the ACT.

Caring for a person with a mental illness can vary from day to day and from person to person. People living with a mental illness can experience periods of wellness and periods of illness, so the caring role can vary greatly. This can make caring for someone with a mental illness more difficult because it is hard to predict and plan.

It can also be different from other caring roles because many mental health carers find it hard to define what they do for the person they care for.

In many cases mental health carers provide an overwhelming amount of emotional support and are often very involved in helping the person they care for to navigate mental health and community services.

How We can Support You in Your Caring Role

Care Planning for Mental Health Carers

We can work with you to:

  • identify what needs are most important to address;
  • support you and to develop skills;
  • access resources;
  • have more time for yourself;
  • foster relationships and navigate the mental health system.

If you support someone with a mental illness who may be eligible for NDIS but are unsure of how to proceed, please call us on 1800 052 222.

Keeping Families Connected

Keeping Families Connected is a five-week group program that provides participants with practical advice on managing stress associated with caring for someone with a mental illness.

Our experienced counsellors work closely with the group to develop new strategies to cope with mental illness and how it affects family relationships.

Through weekly meetings, this program enables you to build relationships with other carers experiencing similar situations while expanding your knowledge of mental illness.

Some of the topics covered at the support group meetings are:

  • stress and its effects – relaxation techniques;
  • information about mental illness;
  • anxiety and depression;
  • drug and alcohol use;
  • how to access community support and resources;  and
  • how to work with mental health professionals.

If you are interested, one of our experienced counsellors can do an individual assessment to ensure that the program is appropriate for you.

We run three courses per year, so even if you can’t make this one, you can put your name down for future courses.

Call us on 1800 052 222 or email to find out more about the program.

Mental Health Carer Support Groups

We host three carer support groups a month:

  • one located on the north side of Canberra in the evenings
  • one on the south side of the evenings
  • one specifically for parents during the day in Holt

These groups provide an opportunity for you to talk freely about how your caring situation impacts on your life.

If you are interested in learning more about these groups, please call us on 1800 052 222 or email for more information.

Education, Information and Resources

Carers often report that the amount of information available is overwhelming and knowing where to go and what information is helpful can be very challenging. We can provide you with relevant, up-to-date information and training in person, by video education modules that you can watch at home, through printed and online resources and more.

Our education training workshops, facilitated by experts, provide you with current research and skills that focus on carer needs. We cover topics such as:

  • Navigating the Mental Health Services in the ACT.
  • Suicide Awareness for Mental Health Carers.
  • Self Care for Mental Health Carers.
  • Trauma Training for Mental Health Carers.
  • Illness specific training including Understanding and Responding to Depression and Anxiety, Caring for someone with PTSD.
  • Treatment Specific Training including, Introduction to Psychotropic Medications.

Visit our ‘What’s On’ calendar to explore upcoming activities.

Taking a Break (Respite)

Respite is taking a short break from your caring role. It is when another person takes over your caring responsibilities temporarily, so that you can have a break. Respite is very important to help you recharge your batteries and care for your own health and well-being.

Respite means different things to different people and it can occur in different places. It can vary from a couple of hours, to a few days or weeks. The services we provide to enable you to take a break include:

  • In-home help provided by a support worker.
  • Assistance with special equipment
  • ‘Residential respite’ where the person you care for has a short stay at an aged-care home.
  • Recreation and education-based activities.

Speaking Up for Yourself

We can help you to resolve complex matters when you’re negotiating the mental health system and give you advice and support on speaking up for yourself. Speak to one of our carer advocates on 1800 052 222 or read more on our Carer Advocacy Service.

Mental Health Carers Voice

As the peak body for mental health carers in the ACT, we work closely with carers to help make positive changes to the mental health service system ensuring that the perspectives, concerns and ideas voiced by mental health carers and their families are heard by decision-makers.

Toward this, we support mental health carers to participate in creating positive change in mental health and facilitate their involvement in consultations, media engagement and other advocacy efforts.

For more information, see Mental Health Carers Voice to read about our work in advocating for change and how you can participate.

Looking after yourself

  • Join a carer support group and share experiences with like-minded carers
  • Talk to one of our professional counsellors
  • De-stress with one of our therapeutic activities such as yoga or meditation or relax and have fun at one of our social activities. Visit our What’s On page and register for one of our events

Links to other supports

Head to Health is a Government website to help you find online mental health resources.

The Mental Health Foundation ACT offers supports in accommodation, employment, personal assistance, personal wellbeing activities and life skills.

ACT Recovery College A place to learn about mental health, recovery & wellbeing

Richmond Fellowship supports individuals living with a mental illness through a residential recovery program and mentor service in Canberra, Queanbeyan and Goulburn.

Mental Health Carers NSW (formerly Arafmi NSW) is a non-government organisation that provides systemic advocacy and support for families, relatives and friends of people who experience mental illness, living in NSW.

Partners in Recovery (PIR) is a community based program aimed at supporting Canberrans living with severe and persistent mental health concerns to develop their own plans for sustained recovery.

COPMI promotes better outcomes for children and families where a parent experiences mental illness

Reimagine – Supporting people living with mental health conditions to navigate the NDIS

The Beyondblue Guide for Carers Supporting and Caring for Person with Anxiety and Depression

The Butterfly Foundation support for people and their carers who experience eating disorders or body image issues



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