The UK are at the forefront of everything Mental Health related, in Europe; and today marks the start of one more meaningful local initiatives: Carers Week 2015.
But what are carers?
As summarised by the campaign organisers, carers typically help their partners, husbands, wives, friends, neighbours, etc., when they need it. They help with the day to day, whether it means that they get someone washed and dressed, turning them in their sleep, helping them move about or administering their medication, or helping with shopping, laundry, cleaning, cooking, filling in forms, completing duties….
This week and as often as we can, I encourage all of us to make a point to show gratitude to these millions of unpaid workforce helping us to navigate our lives.
If you are one of them, please give yourself a pat on the shoulder & treat yourself with something you enjoy. You deserve it! However, do keep in mind that you shouldn’t stop taking care of yourself, and that, sometimes the best way to care is to stop helping. If you feel burned-out and/or lost, maybe it means that something isn’t quite right and needs to change.
My personal experiences as a carer taught me few things, which I now consider as personal guidelines.
Allow me to share the most important one here with you:
You cannot help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. You cannot help someone who doesn’t want to get better. Therefore, you shouldn’t. If you do, you will exhaust yourself and instead of helping the person you care for, will put her/him in a higher level of distress ( by making them dependant of your interventions and less likely to seek help for example,..).
So, if caring for others is one of the most beautiful and selfless things one can do, it also has to be for the best: the outcomes should be positive, for both. Today, carers lack support, recognition and guidance. Their own life is greatly impacted by the role they play so generously. That’s the reason why an initiative like careers week is of an outmost importance, and why we should learn from it and replicate it in our own countries.
You can find out more about the UK initiatives here via www.carersweek.org.