Caregivers are now asked to join discussion on mental health

(© Can Stock Photo / robwilson39)

Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare is inviting an often-overlooked group to join the important conversation on mental wellness.

The hospital’s Mental Health and Addictions Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) is teaming up with the University of Windsor School of Nursing, to invite those who care for people experiencing mental illness to provide insight into the challenges and issues they face daily.

The collaboration is supported by an Igniting Discovery Grant from WE-Spark.

“Most caregivers are not trained mental health professionals, yet their role can mean helping their loved one in crisis, with symptom and medication management and navigating a complex healthcare, social services, and housing system,” said HDGH Director of Mental Health and Additions Patrick Kolowicz. “In many ways, our mental health and addiction system is reliant on caregivers.”

The study will investigate the experiences of caregivers who provide help to those who live in Windsor-Essex, aged 18 to 64, who live with mental illnesses like anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and others. The research team will use this information not only to provide for these caregivers, but also to plan for a future “Caring for the Caregiver” conference.

“COVID-19 has allowed us to engage in a comprehensive research study and ask this group ‘What do you need? How do you see support being offered? What can be done to ensure you remain mentally and physically healthy?'” said PFAC member Clementa Stan. “It is the intent to offer an event that specifically speaks to this research and needs.”

There is a 20-minute self-administered survey that is available on HDGH’s official website. Those caregivers who want to share in-depth stories about their experiences can elect to do an in-person interview with the research team. Anyone who participates in the interview will receive a $10 gift card as an appreciation.