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Looking after yourself while supporting someone

Illustration of a person knitting in a chair as a kitten plays with the yarn

“You are a better carer when you look after yourself, because who will look after the unwell person if you become unwell?”

– Jo

You may be supporting a family member or friend just for right now, for a short period until they get back on their feet, or on a regular basis. Perhaps you spend a few hours every day helping them get to medical appointments, social outings, or shopping. Or maybe you are there to support them with all their activities all day on most days.

Whatever the reasons or level of care you are providing, and whether or not you see yourself as a ’carer’, there is support available. There are services and resources you can access that can help making caring easier.

While caring for someone can be rewarding, it can also be emotionally and physically challenging. If the person you are caring for has mental health challenges, they can go through mood and behaviour changes. Sometimes the person you are caring for may not want the care you are providing. Or they may not be able to do the things you think will benefit them.

You may feel frustrated, exhausted, lonely or isolated. You may feel that your needs are not as important as the needs of the person you are caring for. You may not even feel entitled to seek or get help. But looking after someone else is not a reason to forget or neglect to look after yourself. If you’re not looking after your own wellbeing, you likely won’t be able to support someone else.


Are you caring for a young person?

If you are a parent or guardian caring for a young person with mental health challenges, it can be challenging and have an impact on you. It's important to make sure you're looking after yourself, too.

“It's easy to burn out. Caring for a family member is not like working from 9-5. It goes on day and night, it’s non-stop. That's why self-care is so important."

– Jo

Get the support you need

There are websites, forums, and other online resources that can give you support and guidance on caring for someone.

  1. Carer Gateway
    An Australian Government website and phone service for carers. If you care for a family member or friend, Carer Gateway can help you find and access support services, practical advice, and free coaching. It can also connect you to a community of other carers.
  2. Carers Australia
    The national peak body representing Australia’s unpaid carers, advocating on their behalf to influence policies and services at a national level.
  3. Beyond Blue Online Forum
    A moderated, online peer support forum for sharing tips on supporting a partner, family member or friend with a mental health condition. You can also seek support for your own wellbeing with other carers.
  4. SANE Friends, Family, and Carers Forum
    An online community for people affected by mental illness. A safe, stigma-free, supportive, and anonymous peer support community. The forum is moderated 24/7 by mental health professionals.
  5. Lifeline toolkit for carers of people with a mental illness
    A self-help resource for people caring for someone to help people living with mental illness.
  6. Young Carers Network
    A nationally coordinated resource to raise young carer awareness, provide information, and direct young carers to appropriate pathways for support.