Caring for loved ones with mental illness puts caregivers at risk themselves – now two new digital mental health programs have been developed to support them
Caring for loved ones with mental illness puts caregivers at risk themselves – now two new digital mental health programs have been developed to support them.
The role of caregiving can come at a high personal cost. Research shows that it can lead to depression, anxiety and a decrease in wellbeing with carers reporting significant negative outcomes including time out of the workforce and poorer physical and mental health.
In our first episode of 2023 we take a look at the ‘hidden workforce’ of the Australian mental healthcare system – the family, friends and caregivers of people living with mental illness. Reports estimate that these informal carers supporting Australians with mental illness provide care that would cost governments significant amounts to replace.
Research also suggests that many people providing care and support for someone with a mental illness don’t recognise themselves as “carers” – or that their role could be impacting on their own mental health.
Today we look at the role of digital mental health in supporting the wellbeing of informal caregivers, preventing their own mental ill health to reduce the risk of their vital caring role from being compromised.
Our guest today is Dr Sally Fitzpatrick. Dr Fitzpatrick is a Program Manager at EveryMind, a leading Centre delivering successful mental health and suicide prevention programs for over 30 years.
Now, Dr Fitzpatrick and her team have developed two new digital programs: one designed specifically for family and friends supporting someone who has attempted suicide and the other for family and friends supporting the mental health of paramedics – as one of the country’s most trusted first responders, paramedics experience higher levels of psychological distress, trauma, PTSD and suicidal behaviour.
In this episode, Dr Fitzpatrick talks to Dr Tania McMahon about the high risk of poor mental health and well-being among informal caregivers, how health professionals can identify those in need of support, and how to connect them to services. She says the increasing availability and efficacy of digital mental health programs in treating mental ill health provides an opportunity to think differently about services provided to families, friends and carers.
Who is Dr Sally Fitzpatrick
Dr Sally Fitzpatrick is a Program Manager at Everymind. She is also a Clinical Psychologist and researcher who is passionate about the prevention of mental ill-health and suicide, as well as the promotion of wellbeing for all Australians.
Dr Fitzpatrick’s program and research work is focussed on understanding the factors that contribute to mental health and wellbeing, and the translation of this knowledge into evidence-based programs for dissemination in local communities. She is committed to working collaboratively with colleagues and stakeholders to achieve a high level of program delivery.
Dr Fitzpatrick is a registered psychologist (with Clinical Psychology endorsement) and hold conjoint positions with The University of Newcastle and Macquarie University. She has a track record of securing competitive grants, including with Australian Rotary Health, Suicide Prevention Australia, and Movember. She has published widely in peer-reviewed journals, presented her research at national and international conferences, and is an affiliate investigator on several large research projects.
Dr Fitzpatrisk currently supervises three phD students at Everymind and was awarded the 2020 Newcastle Permanent Research Mentor of the Year – providing by the Hunter Children’s Research Foundation Community Acknowledgement of Research Excellence (CARE). Dr Fitzpatrick has combined her research with clinical work since 2008 and is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society.
Visit the Everymind website at https://everymind.org.au/
Learn more about the Minds Together programs at: https://mindstogether.org.au/
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