The stigma of an unpaid Mental Health Carer

matthew-mckenzieWelcome back to another blog from unpaid carer in the south of London. As world Mental Health Day draws near, a lot of emphasis is placed on those suffering angel problems. I find it quite important that you must not forget the hidden Heroes who’s tape in when their loved ones are in most need. This is not to take away the difficult battles mental health survivors face, however all too often sigma hits out at more than one person.

Mental health stigma hits the family, the friend, the husband, the wife and even the neighbour. This blog will concentrate on another type of stigma, which can be all Too Well forgotten. I am going to talk about carer stigma. Now it is very important that not all unpaid carers suffer from carer stigma.

First you must differentiate what or who is an unpaid carer. I am talking about the person who suddenly finds themselves caring for someone close to them who has been unfortunate to pick up either physical or mental health problem. I am not talking about paid care workers, although I do admit care workers to find they can have a difficult job, they are paid for their role and can be protected by Union.

Arguments.

With carers they are not trained and often care out of closeness and love for the person they are trying to look out for. It gets really difficult if that person has a mental health illness.

The types of carer stigma.

So Let’s Begin, I cannot really produce an exhaustive list of different types of carer stigma, but the ones that i am showing i’ll probably the most recognisable types of carers take life out there.

Depends on the illness.

When a loved one become very unwell, he often try as hard as he can to support them. The problem is the more chronic the illness the more is stigma lash out. A good example is when a carer is caring for someone suffering psychosis, those suffering from this difficult illness can often present challenging behaviours. If such behaviour is out in public, then the challenge is not only faced by the mental health Survivor but also the carer.

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It only takes one person to ridicule the suffering from a mental health problem. This can then extend to the person family, the risk is once a community starts to gossip about the situation, it can cause the carer to become more isolated. This in turn leads to stigma of both mental health and carer. As a note not or carers go through this and it probably can depend upon the illness anyway.

The Label

Although not as devastating as the first form of carer stigma, it still can be rather destructive. Some people carry on caring and supporting those close to them out of desperation. They carry on caring regardless of the support mechanisms that amen applied to the family network.

At first it seemed really brave, it is great to hear a carer battle it out no matter what the situation. However there is one big problem, no matter what are the carers might say to this situation, the person still feels that they do not deserve the term of being labelled a carer. The problem is that this person will then like the support network available for carers.

Clashing forms of relations

This type of stigma is actually quite similar to the one mentioned previously. A good example is when a person marries someone they marry for better or worse. When the worst does arrived, the person cares especially out of love. They care because they are either the husband or wife. If you try to tell them that they are now a carer, that person may become very irritated. They refuse to be labelled as a carer, and yes this is the right, but the risk is lack of support network available to them.

This care stigma can also extend to other relations within the family, another good example is a young person caring for a parent, or even especially a young carer. Can you imagine as a child having to suddenly provide care for an older adult suffering a mental health condition?

The terrible characteristics of an unpaid mental health carer

There are several characteristics, which are aimed at carers. I am going to go through a few that come off the top of my head.

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Being labelled as lazy

All too often we have to work for a living, we have to pay our dues. The harder the work we do, the more we expect to be paid. The more complex the role, the more we expect be rewarded. There is this review going around that the Caring role is fairly easy, because some people think that it is easy, they think that the carer does not have to do much at all. This can lead to carers being labelled as lazy. Once a person is targeted as lazy, they do not really want to be labelled as a carer.

Being blamed

This is quite common in the field of psychology/psychiatry, especially in America. When someone is unfortunate enough to develop a mental health problem, all too often psychiatrists tend to probe the family structure. All too often, it says if the carer is not doing their job properly. It might even go so far as to state that the carer is causing the mental health relapse or has caused the mental health problem to manifest itself in the first place.

One of the main criticisms of psychiatry, is at one end it might exclude the carer in their supporting role/care plans or confidentiality and at the other end label the carer as the problem within care plans and assessments. This can lead to a person not really wanting to find the energy battling a mental health system that can misunderstand the caring role.

Confrontational

Another good example of how the mental health system might fail families and carers, is if the carer has experienced failures in support of their loved ones and even the care of them self. It then becomes only a matter of time before the carer becomes more confrontational. No one really wants to be labelled as aggressive, uncooperative and confrontational. This is just another label a person can do without, so why would they want to be labelled as a carer?

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Risk of declining health

Again this might depend upon the type of illness the person is trying to care for, the more chronic the illness, the most stressful situation is for the carer. Since the NHS is under severe strain, a person would have to think hard and long before they would want to commit themselves in becoming an unpaid carer. It is like that there has been a secret contract, stating that the carer now must take the role of the lack of staff within the health system. This could be administering medication, advocating, understanding side effects, understanding social welfare, mental health legal matters, engaging with doctors and also mental health advocate and peer supporters.

Is there any wonder why carers can end up with depression, anxiety, stress and worry? One could say that mental health illness can be catching.

Hiding it all away

I’m afraid I have bad news, for what I have mentioned is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Carer stigma. I did not want to make this blog post overly long. With the above issues mentioned, is it any wonder why someone wants to hide themselves from being labelled as a carer?

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