FAMILIES and carers of people with mental health problems across the southeast are bearing the brunt of its hidden cost.
It is not just those battling illnesses such as anxiety, depression or schizophrenia that are doing it tough — their carers are becoming isolated, financially crippled and in some cases, developing mental health issues of their own.
But support services want those carers to know help is out there.
CareConnect’s Linda Pandita said the main problem was the stigma attached to mental health.
CareConnect carer and family support facilitator Linda Pandita, left, with carer Bozena Adamczuk and her grandson Pepe. Picture: Andrew Batsch
“A lot of people who have someone with a mental illness in their family won’t talk about it,” Ms Pandita said.
“A kid at school whose brother or sister is suffering, or maybe parents think others might judge or blame them.
“The stigma leads to people being more isolated and trying to cope with the problems themselves.”
As well as people having to give up some work, study or social life, there was also the financial strain of looking after someone with mental illness.
Ms Pandita said how well a person was supported by the system by getting the right treatment or medications had a “flow-on effect” to the carers.
“Carers can develop depression or anxiety because of the pressures they deal with in their role, which is why it is important to have these support services in place,” she said.
Mental illnesses developed mainly from traumatic experiences, but also included biological, social environment, drugs and coping abilities, Ms Pandita said.
The problem could be exacerbated for culturally and linguistically diverse carers who may have difficulty being recognised as carers or are recognised when they say ‘I need help’, she said.
“They might just have someone at home who they are trying to manage,” Ms Pandita said.
“We try to address that by talking to different community groups and reach out to community leaders that there are services for them.”
This article first appeared on ‘The Herald Sun’ on 4 February 2016.