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Mental Illness: The Plight of Caregivers

What does it take to care for someone with mental illness? Good question. A lot of sleepless nights, sacrifices in your career and a hell lot of money. Not to forget fervent prayer to whatever spiritual authority you believe in. Caregivers for people with mental disorders go through a lot, many times they need to seek counselling themselves.

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Chiromo Hospital Group, a leading private service provider of mental health care. Credit: zenhealth.co.ke

I know a caregiver for one such person who lost their job in the line of duty. Their supervisor couldn’t understand why they needed to be absent so many times and refused to renew their contract. Why? Because the said person would often show up to work with their child and their child didn’t look sick. Their boss had no idea that the adult child would call them endlessly on some nights because they were unable to sleep during a psychotic episode. The caregiver reported that the child would feel like there were snakes crawling on their skin as they slept, snakes that the caregiver could not see. That is what a day in the life of a caregiver is like.

Not to forget that they had to run around taking their adult child to medical appointments. Sometimes they would have to pay tens of thousands out of pocket for the treatment of their child, even when they were out of employment. Caregivers of sufferers of mental illness do not have it easy. Yet when discussing mental health and wellness, special care is only given to the sufferers of mental disorders.

Mathari Hospital, known for treating mental illness. Credit: Tuko News

Often, caregivers of people with mental disorders will need counselling themselves. In some cases, the patients are violent. In other cases, the disorders are so severe that the caregiver may fall into a state of depression or anxiety. That could be caused by many things really. For instance constant worry over where money will come from to foot the medical bills or even the frustration of watching a loved one suffer from such a condition.

There is an urgent need to involve caregivers in mental wellness plans, not just for the sake of the patients, but also for their own sake. To begin with, you can sign a petition about this on change.org. That will demonstrate your empathy and sympathy to caregivers. Ask your friends and family to sign too. The more the merrier. Let’s make life easier for caregivers of people who suffer from mental disorders.

Read Also: Bipolar Disorder: The Two-Faced Prong

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