Letter to Editor – Coober Pedy Regional Times
During Carers Week (which occurs in October each year), I was reminded of the “contrast” between the Australian approach to people with physical health problems compared to our approach to those with emotional or mental health issues. If a friend is ill with a medical condition, caring people feel comfortable about sending cards or flowers, providing meals, making phone calls or providing other support for the stressed family.
However, if someone we know is affected by an emotional or mental illness, there is a tendency to back away. This leaves the carers of those with mental illness feeling very isolated and can increase their already high levels of stress. Often, it is not a lack of caring on our part but just that the illness is not generally understood and we are not sure of what to do.
Based on my experience as a health worker, a good option is to educate ourselves about the issue of concern by using reliable websites and other resources that provide guidelines for responding to difficult illnesses. Be sure to contact those caring for the person with the emotional or mental illness and ask what would help them most. Often the answer will be the same as for any other illness – cards, flowers, phone calls, meals, time out for a coffee and a chat, outings for the children, transport to appointments and other practical help.
Coober Pedy has impressed me already as a friendly and caring community. This is a strength to be proud of and one that cities often lack. Based on this, there is much we already do and more we could do as a community to support carers of people with mental health issues.
As always, caring benefits all of us.
Jenni Morley – Coober Pedy