Mental Health Caregiver Guide

Mental Health Caregiver Guide

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), the Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA), Military Family Services (MFS), and the Mental Illness Caregivers Association (MICA) to develop a national resource for Canadian caregivers of children, youth, adults, and older adults facing mental illness or experiencing mental health challenges.

Mental Health Caregiver Guide [PDF 4.2 MB]

Resource Guide - Greater Ottawa Area

The Resource Guide - Greater Ottawa Area [PDF 11.8 MB] reflects mental health resources and supports located throughout the Ottawa area (Champlain LHIN).

This guide is not an exhaustive list of all supportive services, but rather a starting point - feel free to explore how these resources could assist you (the caregiver) or the person you care for (child, youth, adult, older adult) on the journey to recovery.

Taking Care of Yourself, the Caregiver

Caring for someone living with a mental illness can be rewarding and challenging. It is important that you take care of yourself FIRST so that you can take care of others. Find ways to help yourself be the best caregiver possible.

 Taking Care of Yourself, the Caregiver Activity Guide

The term "caregiver" refers to all the people involved in a person's immediate circle of care.  Over half a million Canadians are caregivers to people living with mental health challenges or illnesses.  Many feel worried or anxious because of their responsibilities.  It is important that they take care of themselves so they can continue being a healthy caregiver.

Taking care of yourself, the Caregiver Activity Guide (PDF) 1.91MB 

Think of someone in your life that you care for ...or someone that you might need to care for in the future.

How DOES this, or how COULD this affect your life?

Did you know that there are more than 8 million people in Canada who provide care to a friend or loved one?

And....more than half a million of these people are caring for someone living with mental health challenges or illnesses?

Maybe you're one of these people...or you know someone who is!

Being a caregiver can be very rewarding. It can also be challenging at times... and affect your own physical health and mental health.

The good news is there are things you can do to help you and your loved ones stay healthy.

Let's look at an example. This is Samira.

Samira has a job and also helps care for her sister Aiyana who lives with a mental illness. 

Samira loves her sister, and is happy to help.... but she's finding it hard to balance work and her personal life. She doesn't have much time for herself...and feels conflicted.... she wants to help her sister but she also wants to see her friends more and maybe even travel.

What could Samira do to help her sister, and herself?

Like all caregivers, it's important that Samira knows her limits...WHAT she can do and HOW MUCH she can do...And also knows where to get help, when to ask others for help, and how to accept help when it's offered.

It's important for caregivers to try to take care of themselves FIRST so they are better able to take care of others.

So what else could Samira do?

Samira could plan how many hours a week she needs to get her own work and activities much free time she needs to take care of herself and then decide how much time she can spend helping her sister.

Maybe she can get support from her workplace and ask her manager about flexible working hours.

She could speak to a health care professional about her unique situation.

She could join a support group to learn more about her sister's illness and how other people are managing in similar situations.

She can also ask her family and friends for help...or get help from community-based services.

Everyone's caring experience is different...and so are the feelings that go along with it. You may have both positive and negative feelings. That is completely natural.

Sometimes your emotions might feel out of your control, BUT they are not right or wrong.

Practice feeling your emotions without judging them and think about WHY you feel certain things...This can help you understand how your emotions affect your actions and maybe even how they affect the person you care for.

If you notice unusual changes in your emotions, your physical health, or your mental health, talk to a health care professional as soon as you can. Remember that you are important and need to take care of yourself too.

Even if you're not a caregiver, you probably know someone who is. Being kind and supportive to them and to the people they care for can really help.

After watching this video, make a list of things you can do to take care of yourself as a caregiver or support someone else who is a caregiver...

Pick one of these thinks you can DO this help you or someone you know be the best caregiver possible!

Even small things can make a big difference.

For more info and resources on being a caregiver, check out

Brought to you by Ottawa Public Health with support from Bell Let's Talk.

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