#BellLetsTalk about The Other 4

Today is Bell Let’s Talk day, where Bell Canada raises awareness and funds for mental health programs. Among the many tweets I’ve seen so far today, one stood out. It was from someone associated with Fame for Families and noted that 1 in 5 Canadians live with a mental illness; while caregivers, the “other 4” are also affected and in need of supports.

This is absolutely true – caregivers in general lack adequate support, and those caring for a person with a debilitating mental illness are even more isolated. However, one does not have to be in a caregiving role to be one of The Other 4.  Not every person with mental illness requires caregiving; not every one of us who care for them also care-give.

As my beloved family member struggles with the combined impact of physical and mental challenges, we are all impacted. We experience worry for the ill person and the caregiver, as well as the impact of the increasing need to provide practical support. We are trying to figure out our roles, how much do we step in, how much do we take over, who is the family spokesperson, how do we connect with health services, etc. For myself, it is odd not to be in the health care provider role – what do I do as a daughter, sibling, cousin.

I am grateful for the mental health services in my province. They have been very helpful. I am grateful for resources such as Fame for Families, The Family Guide to Mental Health Recovery, and the Canadian Mental Health Association. More is needed.

The health of the person with the mental health concern, and the health of the other 4, are inextricably intertwined. Today on #BellLetsTalk day, and every other day of the year, let’s remember #TheOther4.

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