A new online program developed by Everymind, called Minds Together, is aiming to help people in lockdown who support their partner, family member or friend with symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Everymind's Director, Dr Jaelea Skehan OAM, says that caregivers in this situation are at risk of developing mental health problems themselves, with COVID lockdowns having increased the pressure.
“Around 3 million Australians have diagnosed depression or anxiety in Australia, and many more live with symptoms of these conditions,” Dr Skehan explains. “However, with many mental health services closed due to COVID lockdowns, people living with these symptoms are turning to family and friends for support.
“But carers also need support, and that’s where Minds Together comes in.”
The program was developed in collaboration with service providers and informed by carers themselves.
Program patron Lucy Brogden AM, Chair of the National Mental Health Commission, says that to care for someone people need to also care for themself.
“Loving and caring for family or friends living with mental illness can be tough and it can be lonely. With more people saying they are not okay, it is important that those who love and care for them are okay, or as okay as they can be,” Mrs Brogden, pictured below, says.
“Minds Together recognises this and is a great program that will help lighten the load and help people stay strong during the tough times.”
Researchers at Everymind are currently running a national study to trial the online program and evaluate feedback.
Anyone aged 16 years or over, living in Australia, and supporting someone with symptoms of depression or anxiety, even undiagnosed, can access the free program by signing up for the study.
One carer who participated in the Minds Together program highlighted its relevance during the pandemic, stating: “Our family situation has been difficult with COVID. My daughter has had high anxiety that has impacted her daily life.
We all have anxiety about COVID, and there is extra pressure from working at home.”
* Project funding has been provided by the University of Newcastle, the University of Technology Sydney and Everymind. Everymind is a leading national institute dedicated to reducing mental illness and suicide and improving wellbeing for all Australians.
Carers who require support or advice are reminded to reach out to one of the following agencies:
Lifeline 13 11 14 or lifeline.org.au/Get-Help
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636 or beyondblue.org.au
Head to Health headtohealth.gov.au
1800 422 737 or carergateway.gov.au