Caregiving for a family member who is experiencing long-term mental illness is a demanding role. While most informal caregivers are not trained mental health professionals, their role can mean helping their loved one when in crisis, with symptom and medication management and navigating healthcare, social and housing supports. This is even more pronounced at this time of the COVID-19 pandemic when both individuals with mental illness, as well as their caregiver, may be experiencing intense feelings brought about by physical distancing and/or the direct effect of the virus that can further impact their mental health and overall wellbeing. Owing to the supports caregivers provide to their ill relative, it has been estimated that their economic contribution in 2009 alone was $25 billion, $5 billion of which can be attributed to providing support for those living with mental illness.
The purpose of this study is to explore the experiences of caregivers who are providing care to a family member living with mental illness in Windsor-Essex. We also aim to understand the needs of these caregivers to help them care for their ill family member; the information will be used to inform the development of a programme for the Caring for the Caregiver Conference.