Those who serve as caregivers for family members dealing with mental illness often go above and beyond. A study published by the National Alliance for Caregiving (NAC) found that on average, they give more of themselves and their resources than caregivers as a whole nationwide. We celebrate all that these family caregivers sacrifice to help their loved ones pursue stability.
They give time.
On average, caregivers for an adult living with a mental illness spend 32 hours providing care each week—eight hours more than the average among those who provide care for any reason. Nearly one in four provide 40 hours or more of care, the equivalent of a full-time job.
As a whole, they also provide care for longer periods of time. The NAC survey found that caregivers for those dealing with mental health issues had been serving in their caregiving roles for an average of nine years as compared to four years (the average among all caregivers nationwide). One in three had been providing care for a decade or more.
They open their homes.
Those who assist a family member struggling with a mental health challenge often give up privacy and the freedom to do all they’d like in their homes so their loved ones can have a safe, supportive place to live. They’re more likely to open their homes to the person for whom they provide care than caregivers as a whole. Nearly half say the person they care for lives with them—a significant sacrifice for them and their entire families.
They give of their finances.
Approximately half of those who care for a family member living with a mental illness say their loved one is financially dependent on them, and many more give at least some of their own funds as they provide rides, meals or assistance with paying for medical care. For some family caregivers, sharing their financial resources means giving up things like vacations or dinners out; for others, it means forgoing saving for retirement or struggling to make ends meet.
They give up social connection.
The many hours caregivers spend assisting their loved ones can leave them with little time to connect with others and receive support. In addition, the stigma that often impacts those for whom they provide care frequently affects family caregivers as well. Approximately half say it’s difficult to talk about their loved one’s mental or emotional health issues, which can lead to isolation.
They sacrifice their health.
The stress and isolation associated with caregiving can take a toll on both physical and mental health: Half of caregivers of adults living with mental health challenges said that caregiving has made their own health worse. This may be due to having less time and energy to care for themselves as four in 10 say they find it difficult to attend to their own health. And, nearly three in four caregivers say they feel high levels of emotional stress.
Assisting a loved one dealing with a mental illness has been shown to have a greater impact on health than being a caregiver in general. While nearly half of adults who provide care for any reason say they’re in excellent or very good health, just a third of those who care for someone living with a mental illness would describe their health the same way.
We give thanks for all the ways that supportive friends and family members give to help many members of The Well Community manage mental illnesses. But, some members of The Well aren’t blessed with family support. The Well Community serves as a family, providing a place where those who live with serious mental health challenges can find support and connect with others who are struggling.
Your gift will help The Well Community continue to serve as a family for those living with serious mental illness, providing support and community.