Caring for people with mental illnesses is important. But acknowledging the needs of the caregivers who take near constant care of them is also essential.
In this episode of Mano Charchae with RJ Padma Priya, Dr Chandrashekhar talks about caring for caregivers, a group that usually includes family members of people living with mental illnesses.
Since in India, mental illnesses are still saddled with a huge burden of stigma, caregivers often find it hard to enable a healthy environment for their loved ones as well as for themselves. A high level of awareness, empathy and unconditional support is expected of the caregivers, so it becomes equally important to think about the emotional wellness of caregivers. Most of them tend to immerse themselves in selfless care, often receiving little in return. They might feel grief, anxiety and stress, and sometimes, caregivers forget to make time for themselves and rest. They might work themselves up out of guilt. They tend to punish themselves by cutting off any channels for entertainment, pleasure or even simple things in their routine, like eating sweets once in a while.
“It is necessary that we live with persons with mental illnesses without sacrificing our own basic pleasures,” Dr Chandrashekhar emphasises. “All caregivers must primarily care for themselves.” They must find a way to see and accept their lives from a larger perspective than their current position, which means balancing the caregiving with their own sphere of happiness.
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