Caregiver Mental Health & Well-Being
OCO’s Spotlight research shows that caregiver mental health is becoming increasingly worse year over year. Supporting your own mental health and well-being can be overwhelming but you can learn how to recognize the warning signs and take charge on prioritizing and maintaining your own mental health and well-being needs. Let’s move past the stigma surrounding mental health by beginning to acknowledge and accept help for yourself.
What type of support is best for me?
It’s important to recognize when and what kind of support you need. For example, engaging in self-care and social support is important but sometimes it may not be enough to address difficult emotions or situations within your caregiving role. There may be times when you need to seek professional care and support.
When to engage in self-care and social supports
Self-care is anything that brings you a sense of peace, comfort, connection, motivation and/or fulfillment. Even if it’s just for a few moments. It can be things you do by yourself or with others which provides social support. Social support may also include things like getting peer support from other caregivers through support groups or more informally.
Self-care can be a challenging concept for caregivers, as you may think it takes time away from your care recipient or other things you need to get done. By engaging in self-care, you can strengthen the support you provide to your care recipient.
Take some time to reflect if you are experiencing any of these warning signs, as it may be time to start engaging in self-care:
Difficulty sleeping Losing hope No energy Headaches and/or stomach aches Feeling trapped in your situation Inability to concentrate Tense muscles Inability to relax Existing health problems worsen No interest or awareness of the world and the people around you Changes in eating habits
When to engage in professional supports or emergency services
What if self-care or social support is not enough? What if things that once brought you joy, no longer do? There are several signs to watch for when you are struggling or in a crisis and need to seek out professional help. Professional support may include talking to your family doctor or nurse practitioner, a mental health therapist, enrolling in a psychoeducational program, or contacting a crisis line.
Take some time to reflect if you have experienced any of these warning signs, as it may be time to engage with professional supports or emergency services:
Poor self-care Restricted social life Suicidal thoughts Persistent fear and worry Disruptions to family life Use of drugs or alcohol to cope Nightmares or flashbacks of a traumatic event Persistent sadness Financial loss
If you or someone you know is dealing with something life threatening, call 911 immediately.
What Programs and Services does OCO provide for caregiver Mental Health and Well-being?
Caregivers play an invaluable role in the healthcare system and within the community, but sometimes caregivers don’t take time to focus on their own needs. Select the resources below to find a program or service that may help meet your mental health and well-being needs.
Psychoeducation, Group, and Individual Counselling
Join weekly psychoeducational webinars (divided into two 4-week sessions) focused on various topics such as stress, anxiety, mindfulness etc., strategies and tools to better cope with difficult caregiving emotions and free group and/or individual counselling with mental health professionals. Counselling spaces are limited and based on a first come first serve basis.
Join an online support group led by a trained peer facilitator to connect with other caregivers. Support groups are offered several times a week including a group for young caregivers and a group offered in French. Option to join online or by phone.
You can also connect with trained peer mentors for 1:1 phone or virtual support. Caregivers with lived experience and knowledge to share are trained to become peer mentors to provide support to another caregiver seeking support with the challenges they are facing.
eLearning & Educational Resources
Access various e-learning modules created in collaboration with caregivers and health care providers to better support your mental health and well-being. Create a free account through the OCO Learning Library and work through the modules at your own pace.
Access recorded webinars for caregivers on a variety of topics related to mental health and well-being.
If you need more personalized support, give our 24/7 Helpline a call and we can try to help you find specific services!
What are Other Resources that Can Help Caregiver Mental Health & Well-being?
- BounceBack Ontario- Canadian Mental Health Association – A free skill- building program to residents of Ontario to help manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry.
- Build Your Own Support Network
- Caregiver Resilience Check-In
- Distress and Crisis Ontario – Find a centre near you offering instant support and a listening ear for anyone who is feeling lonely, depressed, is struggling with suicidal ideation, or who is otherwise in need of support.
- Financial Support
- Living Life to the Full for Caregivers 55+ – Canadian Mental Health Association: Caregivers at least 55 years old in the Toronto area can access free eight-week course designed to provide skills and knowledge to cope with life’s challenges.
- Welcome to Holland (managing caregiving expectations)
Caregivers Share How They Promote
Their Own Mental Health & Well-being
“Yoga for me is soothing and calming. Lying on my mat dulls my thoughts during this relaxing time for me. One hour of peace and tranquillity. I try to do this daily.” – Wendy
“Exercising and stretching on a daily basis helps improve my headspace to enable myself to have more patience and think more positively. Small activities like this decreases the risk of any possible injury I might encounter while caregiving” – Alex
“I try to fit in half an hour of random dancing every day… I replicate dances from music videos, this really helps me to get my emotions and energy out, while bringing me comfort as I know I’m doing good for both my body and mind at the same time”- Shreya
Check-out These Other Strategies to Support Your Mental Health & Well-being
“When I needed therapy sessions, I felt insecure attempting to reach out and find support as I felt I would be judged in the process. I soon found out that there is nothing to be afraid of, as this was the best decision I have ever made!” – Caregiver