Approximately three out of four (72%) carers of those living with schizophrenia, are mainly (34%) or solely (38%) responsible for caring, placing a huge emotional and physical burden on them, according to the preliminary results of a major international survey revealed on World Mental Health Day (#WMHD14). The Caring for Carers (C4C) survey, which is on-going in 25 countries, is being undertaken by the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Illness (EUFAMI) in collaboration with LUCAS, the interdisciplinary centre for care research and consultancy of the University of Leuven, Belgium.
The first results revealed October 10, 2014 are based on responses from more than 400 carers in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK. It provides evidence of the immense and unspoken burden on people caring for those living with schizophrenia and highlights the contribution they make, and the overwhelming impact this has on their own lives.
Family carers perform their caregiver role for an average of 16 years, are likely to have to do so for the rest of their lives, and report an average of 23 hours a week caring for a loved one, due to the undetermined and long-term nature of schizophrenia. This amount of care equates to a part time job.
In the EU, there are approximately 10 million family carers caring and supporting their child or sibling with a serious mental health condition on a daily basis. This is a massive and valuable contribution, not just to individuals, but to society as whole and to the financially strained healthcare systems across Europe. “This hidden workforce of family carers is a lifeline for society and we must take steps to ensure they are fully recognised for their contributions, their voices are heard and they are supported in order to allow them to continue caring effectively and safely for their loved ones, without putting their own physical and emotional well-being at risk,” Kevin Jones, Secretary General, EUFAMI, said today.
Although about one third of the carers report positive experiences of providing care, the survey also indicates that almost 4 out of 10 battle with feelings of being unable to cope with the ‘constant anxiety’ of caring and one third feel depressed. More than 1 in 10 carers worry about feeling isolated and experience strains in their social network because of the care they give