MONTREAL, June 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Now decision makers and service
providers have the tools they need to make positive change for family
caregivers who provide critical help to adult loved ones living with
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) officially launched the National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family
Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses today during a celebration at the 14th Canadian Collaborative Mental Health Care Conference in Montreal.
"Caring for a loved one with a mental illness can place incredible
strain on families. I can speak with an intimate knowledge of the value
these Guidelines will bring to thousands of family caregivers across this country," says
Senator Denise Batters from her office in Ottawa. Senator Batters lost
her husband, former MP Dave Batters, to suicide in 2009. "Every day,
Canadians face the daunting challenge of helping family members recover
from mental illness, encountering stigma and facing barriers to family
involvement in the mental health system. These national guidelines are
an important step towards giving family caregivers the support they
The Guidelines are primarily aimed at service providers and policy makers,
recommending many types of supports and services that caregivers need
at different stages of their loved one's illness and at different
stages of their own lives.
"Family caregivers can play an extremely important role in the recovery
journey of those with mental illness, but it can also be a very
demanding and draining task," says MHCC President and CEO Louise
Bradley. "We are hopeful that these Guidelines will lead to improved services that provide caregivers across the
country with early information, guidance and support to care for their
loved ones effectively and to ease associated stresses."
The Guidelines present 41 recommendations intended to improve the capacity of
caregivers to provide the best possible care to adults with mental
illness while tending to their own wellbeing. Caregivers from across
Canada were instrumental in the development of these Guidelines by offering feedback on an early proposed draft in focus groups
alongside adults living with mental illness, service providers and
representatives from not-for-profit mental health organizations.
"The recommendations for change in these Guidelines are exactly what is needed," says Heather Lackner, Knowledge Exchange
Lead at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and lifelong family
caregiver. "Family caregivers need their helping role acknowledged and
they need our support. These Guidelines are a step towards better health outcomes for Canadians. When we
support family carers and embed them into the system of care, the whole
mental health care system will improve."
Recommendations cover topics such as how to integrate family support
into mental health services, training and support for service
providers, as well as potential legislative and policy changes. The Guidelines also recognize that the unpaid care and support provided by family
caregivers provides a major contribution to the health and social
service system, which would be costly to replace with paid formal
services. Researchers estimated that in 2006, caring for persons with
mental illness added up to $3.9 billion in Canada alone.
The MHCC's former Family Caregivers Advisory Committee initially
advocated for national guidelines to support caregivers. The Commission
responded with resources so that the initiative could be transformed
into concrete action.
"These Guidelines will go a long way to provide family caregivers with the tools they
need to stay healthy and strong as they help their loved ones," says
Ella Amir, chair of the MHCC's former Family Caregivers Advisory
Committee and Executive Director of AMI-Quebec, a Montreal-based family
caregivers association. "Caregivers who are unable to tend to their own
wellbeing may limit the effectiveness of the help they can provide to
relatives and increase costs to the health and social service systems.
These Guidelines are long overdue."
"We estimate there are more than five million caregivers throughout
Canada who must be supported, recognized and protected from the
sometimes adverse consequences of having to care too much," says
Canadian Caregiver Coalition President Nadine Henningsen. "These Guidelines reinforce the key actions contained in a Canadian Caregiver Strategy
that the Coalition is advocating for. We look forward promoting the
awareness and implementation of this important tool."
Download the Guidelines for free at www.mentalhealthcommission.ca to learn more about family caregivers and how the Canadian mental
health system needs to change to better support their needs.
ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are
collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of
Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and
support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health
problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together
we spark change.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.
The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental
Health Commission of Canada. Production of this document is made possible through a financial
contribution from Health Canada.
SOURCE: Mental Health Commission of Canada
For further information:
Kyle Marr, Senior Communication Specialist
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Office: (403) 385‐4050
Cell: (587) 226‐8782
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