Supporting a Loved One

If you find it difficult to come to terms with your loved one’s mental illness, there are many others who share your difficulty. Many family members and friends of people with psychiatric disorders find that mental illness in a brother, sister, parent, or close friend is a tragic event that changes everyone’s life in many basic ways. Strange, unpredictable behaviors in a loved one can be devastating, and your anxiety can be high as you struggle with each episode of illness and worry about the future. It seems impossible at first, but people find that over time that they do gain the knowledge and skills to cope with mental illness effectively. They do have strengths they never knew they had, and they can meet situations they never even anticipated.

A good start in learning to cope is to find out as much as possible about mental illness, both by reading and talking with others. The following are some things to remember that should help you:

  • You cannot cure a mental disorder for someone.
  • No one is to blame for the illness.
  • Despite your best efforts, your loved one’s symptoms may get worse, or they may improve.
  • If you feel extreme resentment, you are giving too much.
  • It is not OK for you to be neglected. You have emotional needs and wants, too.
  • The illness of a family member is nothing to be ashamed of. The reality is that you will likely encounter stigma from an apprehensive public.
  • You may have to revise your expectations of the ill person.
  • After denial, sadness, and anger comes acceptance. The addition of understanding yields compassion.
  • The needs of the ill person do not necessarily always come first.
  • If you can’t care for yourself, you can’t care for another.
  • It is important to have boundaries and to set clear limits.
  • You are not alone. Sharing your thoughts and feelings in a support group has been helpful and enlightening for many.

Source: www.nami.org. July 2001. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). 21 May 2007

 

Online Caregiver Support Group

The Caregiver Online Group is an unmoderated group for families, partners and other caregivers of adults with disorders such as Alzheimer’s, stroke, brain injury and other chronic debilitating mental health conditions. The group offers a safe place to discuss the stresses, challenges and rewards of providing care for a loved one. CLICK HERE to visit the site.

 

Wisconsin Services for Family Caregivers

UW – Extension Family Caregiving
Non-profit organization supports family caregivers by offering educational courses and classes for caregivers. Its website has information on caregiving and caregiver resources in Wisconsin.
Care Recipient Eligibility: Anyone
Caregiver Eligibility:
Anyone caring for a family member or friend
Wisconsin
(608) 262-5871 or (608) 262-8083
AARP Wisconsin
(866) 448-3611
http://www.uwex.edu/ces/flp/caregiving/

Family Caregiver Support Network (FCSN)
Non-profit organization provides information on the resources and options available for family caregivers in the metropolitan-Milwaukee area. Its website allows caregivers living anywhere to be part of online support groups and messages boards.
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Anyone
Direct services available to those in the metropolitan-Milwaukee area.
Caregiver Eligibility:
Anyone caring for a family member or friend
Wisconsin
(800) 449-4481
OR
(414) 220 8600
http://www.caregiversupportnetwork.org

Respite Care Association of Wisconsin (RCAW)
Organization advocates for increased respite services in Wisconsin. Provides information and referral services online and over the telephone for respite care.
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Anyone
Caregiver Eligibility:
Anyone
Wisconsin
Within Wisconsin, call: (866) 702-7229
Outside Wisconsin, call: (608) 222-2033
http://www.respitecarewi.org/

Client Assistance Program (CAP)
Government program advocates for the legal rights of people with disabilities and mental illness. Services include:
– Information and referral
– Representation in cases of complaints filed against the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
– Education
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Adults with any type of disability
Caregiver Eligibility:
Anyone
Wisconsin
(800) 362-1290
http://www.dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/cap.htm

Wisconsin Adult Day Services Association (WADSA)
Association of adult day care providers. Its website has a search tool that allows users to locate adult day care providers in their communities.
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Anyone
Caregiver Eligibility:
Anyone
Wisconsin
Secretary: (262) 898-2742
http://www.wadsa.org

Wisconsin Association for Home Health Care
The Wisconsin Association for Home Health Care (WiAHC) has been formed to help support our common interests to promote home health care as a quality, cost-effective health care option in our state.
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Anyone
Caregiver Eligibility:
Anyone
Wisconsin
920-560-5632
http://www.wiahc.org/

Wisconsin Independent Living Centers
A network of non-profit, non-residential, community-based centers, run and controlled by persons with disabilities that offer:
– Information and referral
– Peer counseling
– Care management
– Independent living skills training
– Individual and systems change advocacy
– Benefits counseling
– Employment readiness training
– Housing referrals
– Assistive technology services
– Legal aid
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Adults with any type of disability
Caregiver Eligibility:
Wisconsin
(800) 362-1290
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/Disabilities/Physical/ILCS.HTM

Wisconsin Vocational Rehabilitation
Government program assists residents of Wisconsin with disabilities to obtain and retain employment. It provides information and referral services for independent living.
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Individuals with any type of disability
Caregiver Eligibility:
Wisconsin
(800) 442-3477
TTY:(888) 877-5939
http://www.dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/

WisTech 
Program assists people with disabilities obtain assistive devices and remain independent in their community by providing services including:
– Information and referral
– Assistive technology demonstrations
– Option to borrow assistive technologies for a limited period of time
– Assistive technology re-use program
– Low interest rate loans for purchase of assistive technology devices
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Individuals with any type of disability
Caregiver Eligibility:
Wisconsin
(608) 267-9091
OR
(608) 266-7974
TTY: (608) 267-9880
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/disabilities/wistech/index.htm

Brain Injury Waiver 
Government program assists low-income individuals of any age with a brain injury by providing help to pay for home and community based services including:
– Care management
– Personal care services
– Home modifications
– Transportation
– Respite
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Multiple requirements:
– Brain injury (including brain trauma, brain damage, traumatic brain injury)
– Low income (Medicaid eligible)
– Must have significant physical, cognitive, emotional and/or behavioral impairments as a result of the injury
– No age requirements
Caregiver Eligibility:
Wisconsin
(608) 266-0547
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/bdds/brain.htmTo find your local county office, please see website for contact information:http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/LTC_COP/CONTACTS.HTM

Community Options Program Waiver (COP-W)
Government program assists low income older adults and adults with disabilities remain in their own homes by helping to pay for services such as:
– Care management
– Personal care services
– Home modifications
– Transportation
– Respite
– Adult day services
Care Recipient Eligibility:
Multiple requirements:
– Adults age 65 and older
OR
Individuals with any type of physical disability
– Low income (Medicaid eligible)
– Live at home or in the community
Caregiver Eligibility:
Wisconsin
608-266-7754
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/LTC_COP/cop.htm
To find your local county office, please see website for contact information:
http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/LTC_COP/CONTACTS.HTM

 

Mental Health Caregiver Resources:

Coping: You are not Alone (Mental Health Association of SE Pennsylvania Training Education Center)
Interactive web site by and for youth growing up with mental illness in the family with separate sections for family members, educators and professionals

The Family Institute for Education, Practice and Research (University of Rochester Medical Center)
Resources related to design, implementation, and evaluation of research-based family interventions for individuals with severe mental illness and their families.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

PLAN -Planned Lifetime Assistance Network (The National PLAN Alliance)
Focused on the planning needs of families with adult children having lifelong disabilities (including mental disorders)

Respite for Families with Children Experiencing a Serious Emotional Disturbance (ARCH National Respite Network and Resource Center)

With Hope in Mind (University of Illinois at Chicago)
8-week education course taught by trained volunteer family instructors to other families of adults with mental illness.

Keeping Care Complete (World Federation for Mental Health)
Mental Illness and Suicide: A Family Guide to Facing and Reducing the Risks, fact sheets on caregiver and serious mental illness, and an international survey on family caregivers of individuals with mental disorders are available.

 

Caregiver Coalitions:

Other Resources: