It can be an overwhelming experience supporting a loved one through the mental health system. As a carer or support person you may come across unfamiliar terms, feel unsure about how to participate, and struggle to find clear answers to your questions. It’s important to know that you are not alone in this experience, and you do have the right to be included.
Unfortunately, family members are not always treated equally to others involved in a person’s care.
You may hear health professionals refer to you as a carer, and find that decisions regarding your loved one’s care are made without you, which can leave you feeling confused and powerless.
If important decisions are being made and you are not being included or consulted it is important you question why, especially when decisions are being made about your ongoing support without your knowledge.
While mental health professionals can provide essential support for those experiencing mental health conditions, it’s important to recognise that not all professionals approach care in the same way. For example, one treating health professional may include you in discussions more than another. As a support person/carer, it’s essential to speak up if you feel you or your loved one’s needs are not being met by their treating team, or if you believe that either of you is being treated unfairly.
Carers have rights too
In Australia, carers of people living with a mental health condition have rights that are protected by policies. These rights include being treated with respect, being informed about your loved one’s condition and treatment, and being involved in decision-making.
As a carer, you also have the right to access support services and participate in mental health policy development. You can make a complaint if you are not satisfied with the care or treatment provided and can apply to receive financial support through government-funded programs and services.
Did you know that under the Carer's Recognition Act, you can take time off work to care for your loved one?