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Carers & Mental Health  Tania Ewin, Senior Project Officer Partners in Depression A mental health initiative of….Program funded by…. 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Carers & Mental Health  Tania Ewin, Senior Project Officer Partners in Depression A mental health initiative of….Program funded by…. 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Carers & Mental Health  Tania Ewin, Senior Project Officer Partners in Depression A mental health initiative of….Program funded by…. 1

2 Today’s session  Introductions  Partners in Depression: Program overview  Building awareness  Acknowledging the carer experience  Purposeful coping  Communication skills  Self-care 2

3 What is the Partners in Depression program?  6 x 2 hour weekly group education sessions for people who support a person with depression (‘carers’, ‘loved ones’, ‘partners’, family or friends)  For groups of between 4 and 12 participants  Aims to address the information and support needs of those who care for a person with depression.  Adult education program for people aged 16 years and over 3

4 What do we know about “caring” & mental health? 4

5 beyondblue Research: 1. Lack of broader social support 2. Lack of respect or engagement by healthcare providers 3. Importance of support groups or agencies 4. Direct impact of depression on carers 5. Impact of depression on intimate relationships Source: Highet, McNair, Davenport and Hickie (2004) 5

6 Research indicates:  Families and carers of people with mental health problems provide assistance and support to the person they care for, and indeed for mental health services, which would otherwise be overwhelmed by the demands placed upon them However, in order to continue providing optimum care, carers themselves require support and assistance Source: Hayman (2005) 6

7 Research indicates:  Caregivers are reluctant to prioritise their own needs alongside or equal to those they care for and almost always presume that their needs do not justify intervention Source: Muscroft & Bowl (2000) 7

8 Positive aspects of caring  Sense of purpose  Strengthened connection with the person you are caring for  including communication  Increased knowledge of the illness/diagnosis and the health system

9 Looking after yourself Early warning signs are important. It is important to recognise what they are:  More moody or irritable  Just not wanting to see people  Sleeping more/less  Eating more/less  Getting easily tired  Giving up on exercise  Not wanting to deal with day-to-day things (opening mail, paying bills etc.)  Putting off deadlines  Putting off housework/other responsibilities 9

10 Insight into Caring & Support

11 The support role 11 Carer Life Course Framework

12 Purposeful coping  Pro-active rather than reactive coping  Change in mindset as well as changes in behaviour toward the person you are caring for  Have knowledge and skills to be able to handle old situations in a different way 12

13 Purposeful coping  In pairs…  Any thoughts or comments about this phase?  What would have to change in your current situation for you to enter this phase?  Changes in the person you are caring for  Changes in you  Changes in the situation you are currently in  Can you see yourself ever in this phase? 13

14 Communication

15 Communication without words!  In pairs, try to communicate 3 things about yourself without using words!

16 Effective communication  Being able to communicate effectively is an important part of any relationship  Improving communication skills can reduce the level of frustration and stress in the family and can facilitate healthy interactions  Caregivers often report worry about the high level of stress in the household and the nature of relationships within the family unit Source: Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria (2003) 16

17 Four basic communication skills: 1 Levelling 2 Listening 3 Validating 4 ‘I’ statements Source: Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria (2003) Effective communication 17

18 1 Levelling  Effective communication can only occur when both parties know all the relevant information (thoughts, feelings and facts)  Levelling involves giving the other person information about your thoughts and feelings, rather than expecting them to read your mind 18

19 2 Listening  This involves not just hearing but actively processing what others say  It is important to pay attention to what others are saying rather than to what you are going to say next 19

20 3 Validating  This involves communicating to the other person that you have heard their position or opinion  It is not necessary for you to understand or even agree with others  It is important to recognise and accept other people’s rights to feel and think as they do 20

21 4 ‘I’ statements  Begin what you say with ‘I’  By doing this, you take responsibility for your own wants, thoughts and feelings rather than putting the responsibility or blame on the other person 21

22 Communicating ‘No’  At times it is difficult to say ‘No’ to requests that you do not want to meet  Saying ‘No’ means that you set limits on other people’s demands for your time and energy, when such demands conflict with your needs and desires 22

23 Communicating ‘No’ Three-step procedure: 1 Acknowledge the other person’s request 2 Explain your reason for declining 3 Say ‘No’ Example I know you would like me to give you $20 (acknowledgement), but I have already given you money last week (explanation) and I can’t give you any more now (saying ‘No’). 23

24 Verbal and non-verbal communication  According to research, in a conversation:  Words are 7% effective  Tone of voice is 38% effective  Non-verbal clues are 55% effective  Non-verbal communication includes facial expressions, eye contact, body posture and movements  What you say is not nearly as important as how you say it Source: Mental Illness Fellowship Victoria,

25 Tips for non-verbal communication  Make yourself comfortable with the other person  Be relaxed and attentive  Maintain frequent eye contact  Give simple nods of approval  Keep gestures smooth and unobtrusive  Use an average rate of speech (or a bit slower)  Maintain a clearly audible voice  Avoid using feet and legs as a barrier  Smile when appropriate  Stay alert through long conversations 25

26 Self-Care

27 Caring for self: Benefits & Barriers  What are the benefits of caring for yourself ?  What stops you from taking time and looking after yourself ? Write down your responses. 27

28 Caring for self: Reasons & Risks  What are the reasons for NOT taking the time to look after yourself ?  What are the risks of NOT taking the time to look after yourself? Write down your responses. 28

29 Self-care activities and strategies  Look at the list of self-care strategies  Choose 2 activities to try out this week  Schedule in the day and time (morning, afternoon, evening) when you will try these activities  Note how you feel when thinking about and carrying out these activities 29

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31 What self-care will you do this week?


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