Meet Cath - Our Family and Carer Consultant

Cath from MIND

headspace Werribee not only supports young people but we provide support to their families as well. As part of National Youth Week, we interview Cathleen, who's role is to support young people's families accessing the centre.

What is your role and how do you support families?
I am the Family and Carer Consultant. I work for Mind Australia and we work in partnership with Headspace to provide support to the family and carers of the YPs who access services at Headspace.

In addition to this I provide the same service at Mind Australia to the carers of our adult clients. I provide peer support, being a carer myself I have an understanding of the challenges faced by carers.
Carer support services offered by Mind include: information and referral, carer counselling, carer education workshops,  respite options which include recreation for carers, carers retreat and day programs for care recipients.

What are some challenges families may experience when supporting a young person with mental health difficulties?
There are any number of challenges faced by families of young people with mental health difficulties. There can be financial difficulties, when time off work is needed to support the young person, there can be the carer’s own mental health which can be affected. It can be really difficult to navigate the mental health system and knowing what services are out there to support families during times of difficulties. Caring for someone who is unwell can be socially isolating for some and it can be helpful for carers to be able to share their experiences with others who understand what they are going through.  

Why should families consider getting support for themselves?
Self-care is important, if you don’t look after yourself it can make the stresses and pressures of caring for another seem  more difficult.

Part of your self-care includes keeping informed and in touch with what services are out there for carers. It reduces the stress of caring and helps to make things seem more manageable.

What words of advice would you give family members supporting young people with mental health difficulties?
- It’s important to take time out for yourself, enjoy social connections, exercise, hobbies or whatever outlets  you have outside of your caring role.
- Be informed and learn as much as you can about mental health, this will help you to better support your young person and understand what’s happening for them.
- Don’t isolate yourself, having people around who understand what you are going through is vital for your own wellbeing and it’s helpful to know what has worked for others
- Importantly don’t blame yourself. I meet many carers who say things like ‘oh if only I hadn’t done this or said that to them when they were growing up…if only I could have stopped that from happening’ there are any number of factors that influence a person’s mental health and many of them are beyond anyone’s ability to predict. The most important thing is that you are here now supporting and caring your young person. Focus on what’s happening now.

What’s one fun fact about you?
I enjoy riding around town on my bicycle on the week end and discovering new riding trails.