Commissioning us - Carer support
Carers save the government an estimated £119 billion per year. Providing appropriate support for carers could increase this huge saving, as well as improve health and wellbeing outcomes for them and the people they care for.
We welcome the Government’s commitment to carers’ breaks, as set out in the Carers’ Strategy 2010, on which our members campaigned. However, the Department of Health’s aim of giving carers a caring system that is on their side, and a life of their own, is not achievable through provision of breaks alone.
At last I feel there is not only somewhere to turn but also people who understand the everyday problems.
Jack, user of Rethink Mental Illness’ Carer service
How we can help
Rethink Mental Illness was established by carers. Our aim is to give them, and those they care for, a voice in every aspect of mental health provision. We believe that carers play an invaluable role in helping people recover from severe mental illness and that they should be acknowledged, valued and supported.
As the largest national voluntary sector provider of mental health services, we know that caring for someone with mental illness is challenging. Mental illness is a fluctuating condition, often misunderstood and stigmatised, and causing considerable emotional distress to carers.
We have developed a range of services to meet the complex needs of carers for people with severe mental illness, and are ideally placed to work in partnership with commissioners to deliver their commitments to carers.
- 46% of calls to our advice service are from carers.
- 77% of Carer service and CEPT users ‘strongly agree’ they would use the service again.
- We have more than 100 free fact sheets on subjects from Hearing Voices to Incapacity Benefit.
What we do
Our range of carer support services operate within our own Quality Assurance Programme and include the following:
Our network of more than 130 support groups brings carers and people with severe mental illness together to share information and experience.
Accessing Carers' Assessments with local authorities; acting as advocates; advising on appointeeship; and helping them to find work and to enjoy and develop lives outside caring.
Advice, information and online support
We provide expert advice and information on the often-confusing world of mental health, as well as practical support with casework. We produce a wide range of Information Standard accredited written information, including fact sheets, resource packs and books. Our research team works in partnership to run www.mentalhealthcare.org.uk, providing information about psychosis for family and friends.
Professionals must stop pushing carers out from information involving the patient.
We provide specialist helplines covering particular locations, groups of carers, or users of our services.
We are committed to working in partnership with people who use our services and their carers. The majority of our Board of Trustees are people who have used mental health services or who care for a family member with mental illness. As such, we are in a unique position to facilitate carers’ involvement in the development of services, policies and legislation that affect them. We were heavily involved in Lord Bradley’s review of the criminal justice system for people with mental illness.
Improving access to services and information
Through our research and our members, we are aware of the problems carers often face accessing services and information. We work in partnership with local authorities and PCTs to raise awareness of some of these problems and find solutions.
Philippa was not told about her son’s schizophrenia diagnosis until seven years after he became ill. She initially contacted Rethink Mental Illness for information on schizophrenia and got more involved in order to make a contribution and to meet other parents in the same situation. She is now a trustee of the charity.
Rethink Mental Illness were recommended to me as the experts on schizophrenia. When I called the advice line, they were so helpful and understanding and sent me some literature on schizophrenia. I immediately became a member of Rethink Mental Illness and got more involved after my husband died.
“Rethink Mental Illness were recommended to me as the experts on schizophrenia. When I called the advice line, they were so helpful and understanding and sent me some literature on schizophrenia. I immediately became a member of Rethink Mental Illness and got more involved after my husband died.”
In collaboration with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Alzheimer’s Society, we have developed and tested a new tool to measure carers’ well-being and satisfaction with support. The Carers’ Well-Being and Support Measure (CWS) is the first validated tool developed with carers, specifically for carers of people with mental health problems or dementia. Our research team is now developing a process for carer support planning and outcome capture, enabling integration with CWS.
 Figure calculated by the University of Leeds for Carers UK, 2011
 My Experience of the Service 2012, pp. 43-44
Need practical advice & info? We can help.
Contact our Advice team about mental health & related issues
0300 5000 927 Monday - Friday 9.30am - 4pm, not including bank holidays