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Family Support Services Region 1 - Facebook in Boston-Massachusetts

Published Jan 10, 23
4 min read

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As you begin your caregiving journey, understand exactly what being a Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program (CDPAP) caregiver involves. CDPAP is a New York-based program which works with Medicaid to allow patients or consumers to recruit and hire caregivers. Often, this program will allow for caregivers to be relatives or close friends rather than a stranger.

It is also required that the person be capable of representing themselves throughout the caregiving process, or have someone represent them for decision-making. The advantage of CDPAP is that it gives autonomy and decision-making rights to the patient or person needing care. People struggling with mental health may be more inclined to receive care from someone they know, making the program a great way to receive support.

Although a reported 20% of adults in the United States suffer from a mental health illness, only recently has the topic started receiving more attention. The list of mental illnesses is very long, and taking time to understand what person receiving care is suffering from will help you best know how to support them through the process.

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Possible mental illnesses include: ● Depression ● Anxiety ● Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) ● Bipolar Disorder (BD) ● Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) It is important to remember that it is not your role nor responsibility as a caregiver to diagnose a person with a specific mental illness. Even if the person tries to self-diagnose, only a professional doctor has the qualifications to properly diagnose a person with a mental health disorder.

If something serious occurs, it is important to be aware of resources and steps to take in order to best handle the situation. That said, it is important to remember that it is not your fault, and that there are professional resources available to help deal with these situations. Emergencies may include: ● Self-harm (including physical or mental) ● Suicide attempts ● Threats to themselves or to people around them ● Sporadic, dangerous behavior ● Manic or panic episodes It may not always be easy whether a situation is a life-threatening emergency.

For these kinds of situations, you should always have on hand the National Suicide Prevention Hotline and police phone numbers on hand. According to the official government mental health website, only 44% of adults suffering from mental illness receive treatment, and 22% for children. Although mental health awareness is growing, there is still a lot of taboo and misinformation surrounding the topic of mental illness.

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If the person is not receiving treatment, encouraging them to is another step to take to best provide caregiving support. Although you can help them on their journey to recovery, therapy, medication, and hospitalization are all treatment methods which are available and done by professionals. If the person you are caring for is showing resistance to the idea of receiving treatment, avoid making them feel bad or guilty about it by telling them that they are making a wrong decision.

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Recovery is a long and complicated process, but one of the most essential parts is having autonomy and self-determination in life. For patients suffering from mental illness, a sense of lack of control over their life can worsen their emotional state. By giving them freedom and the possibility to choose for themselves, you may be giving them a new perspective on life, and give them hope for a better future.

Reminding them that they are loved, and that they are more than their illness, is one of the best things a caregiver can do to help them through the process of recovery. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has a wide variety of great resources when it comes to supporting someone with mental illness.

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For example: ● “I have noticed you are eating less. Is there a meal I can make that you would enjoy?” ● “I can see you are feeling kind of down today. Is there a friend I can reach out to that you would like to talk with?” ● “I am worried about certain behaviors I have noticed recently.

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That said, the best things to do as a mental health caregiver is regularly checking in, creating a safe space for the person suffering, and reminding them that you truly value them for things other than their illness. When it comes to being a caregiver, learning and practicing self-care consistently is an indispensable part of the task, especially when it is for someone with mental illness.

In this section, we will be looking at different ways to take care of yourself as, and resources for, a caregiver. Broadly speaking, self care means taking the time to maintain your physical and mental health. This can be done in a wide variety of ways, and will vary for each person.