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Mental Illness – What Does It Mean for Them?

By Tasha Broomhall

Mental illness is still often misunderstood. If someone in your life discloses to you that they are living with a mental illness, this doesn’t really tell you much about their personal experience. There can be a range in the intensity, frequency and duration of symptoms; the extent of functional impacts can vary and the treatments and supports required can also be different between individuals. A great idea if someone discloses any mental health issue, and particularly one still surrounded by misunderstanding, is to ask them what their experience is. So for example you could say something like: “Thanks for letting me know. I understand a little of what this illness means for some people. Can you tell me what it means for you?” This is particularly helpful in a workplace context because if you can understand the individuals experience you can then work with the specific employee to determine any possible impacts and supports required. It is also important to remember the impact that caring for others can have on us. If you (or one of your staff) are a family carer, or a community support person for someone with ongoing mental health issues, someone with disability or someone who is frail, the impact of caring can take its toll on you. Providing support to others is often a beautiful gift, however as carers you may also need some support. If you, or a carer you know, could use some help, have a look at these services:
  • Mental Health Carers Arafmi (WA) Incorporated – A FREE service supporting families and friends of people with mental health issues.
  • Carers WA – Carers WA is a non-profit, community based organisation dedicated to improving the lives of family carers living in WA.
  • Mental Illness Fellowship of WA – MIFWA is a not for profit organisation dedicated to providing information and a range of support services to people with mental illness as well as their carers, families and friends.
Connecting with other carers can help you to get support and information and to develop helpful strategies to sustain your caring role.

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