Key Messages – Family Caregivers Guidelines

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Mental Health Commission of Canada

Key Messages – Family Caregivers Guidelines

  • Caregivers play a distinct and important role by providing support and advocating for family members living with mental illnesses and contributing to their recovery.
  • Well-supported family caregivers can aid in the recovery journey of persons with mental illness, in the improvement of their quality of life and in their inclusion in all aspects of community life.

  • Adequate support can alleviate the stressors often associated with caregiving, the absence of such supports on the other hand, can lead to negative effects for family caregivers that may jeopardize their capacity to provide care as well as their own health and well-being.
  • The National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses contain 41 recommendations intended to improve the capacity of caregivers to provide the best possible care to adults with mental illness, while looking after their own well-being.
  • This document is meant to assist policy makers and service providers in planning, implementing and evaluating mental health care services that recognize and address the unique needs of family caregivers.
  • Failure to recognize, acknowledge and support family caregivers heightens their risk of becoming “collateral casualties” of mental illness, compromises their health and quality of life, reduces their capacity to provide quality care to their relatives and increases costs to the health and social service systems.
  • Researchers estimated that in 2006 alone, caregiving costs for persons with mental illness were $3.9 billion in Canada. (Lim, K., Jacobs, P. & Dewa, C. (2008).
  • The unpaid care and support provided by family caregivers makes a major contribution to the health and social service system, which would be very costly to replace with formal paid services.
  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada looks forward to working with our partners to ensure the recommendations from this document are implemented to help support family caregivers across the country.
  • These guidelines build on recommendations found in Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canadato facilitate a greater voice, participation and support for family caregivers in a transformed mental health system. To read more about the strategy, visit:
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