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Supporting yourself while caring for someone

Learn how to manage your own wellbeing while caring for someone else. Get information and tips on looking after your mental health and finding support.

Where to find support for carers

Seeking help is often the first step towards getting well and staying well. But sometimes it can be hard to know how to start or where you can turn to.

It's common to feel unsure, and to wonder whether you should try to handle things on your own. However, there are organisations who could help make things easier and offer you extra support.

On this page:

Support for your own mental health

  • Your GP. It's always ok to seek help, even if you are not experiencing a specific mental health problem. For more information, see our page about talking to your GP. It explains how your GP can help and what might happen in an appointment.
  • Talking treatments. Treatments such as counselling give you time to explore your worries and difficult feelings with a professional. It might help to have space to talk about how looking after someone else affects you, without having to feel guilty for expressing your frustrations or difficulties. For more information, see our page on talking treatments.
  • Mental health helplines and listening services. Helplines are staffed by trained people ready to listen. They won't judge you, and could help you make sense of what you're feeling. We have a list of contacts and more information on our page about helplines.

"I looked after my friend who was suicidal for weeks, not knowing what to do to help. When I was finally at the end of my tether, I called Samaritans. I didn't realise they were able to help me too. After a relatively short phone call I was pointed in the right direction to get help for my friend and also for me."

For information about getting help for specific mental health problems, see our mental health A-Z.

Practical help for carers

  • Social care support. Social services may be able to provide support for you and the person you look after. The kind of support you are offered will depend on their needs and your own. This will be decided through a carer's assessment. For more information, see our legal page on adult carers' social care rights. You can also find more details about the carer's assessment from Carers UK, for both adult and young carers.
  • Financial support. You may be able to get some money to help you, such as the carer's allowance and/or Universal Credit. The person that you care for may also be entitled to some benefits. Applying for benefits and financial support can be complicated. The charity Turn2us offer advice and a benefits calculator to check what you might be eligible for. Another useful service which can help you understand benefits is Citizens Advice.
  • Respite care. You may be entitled to support to help you have a break. A carer's assessment should include information about respite care. Some charities also help provide respite care holidays.

"I cared for my husband for many years with no support. I wish I’d known there was help and how to access it sooner. I would also have looked after my own wellbeing as a priority and maintained my friendships and family relationships."

  • Technology. Some technologies and apps help to make it easier to look after someone else. Carers UK has information on technologies for carers and how they could help you, such as Jointly – an app to make caring easier to organise and manage. They also offer a Digital Resource for Carers.
  • Support at work. If you are finding it hard to balance caring with paid employment, you have a right to ask your employer about flexible working arrangements. But to make this request you need to have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks. Your flexible working request could involve going part time, changing your work pattern or job sharing. You are also entitled to reasonable time off work to deal with emergencies. Carers UK has more information about your rights at work.

"My work was incredibly supportive when I told them. I'm fortunate in that much of my job is flexible. Although I didn't need to use them, there are employment rights for carers."

Local and peer support for carers

  • Online forums and communities. Meeting people who have shared similar experiences can help. You can chat to people on Mind's Side by Side and the Carers UK forum.
  • Peer support groups for carers. Some charities run face-to-face or online video support groups. Rethink have a tool for carers of people with mental health problems to search support groups in your area.
  • Local support services. On the Carers UK website, you can use their local service finder to search with your postcode. Most areas are covered by Carers Trust Network Partners. If you support someone in your family, you might also be able to get support through the Family Lives local services.

For more general information, see our pages about peer support.

For details of support from charities and public services, see our page of useful contacts for looking after yourself as a carer.

"I just want other carers out there to know they are not alone. Take all the support you can, read the articles on Mind and understand what you, your family and your loved one are dealing with."

Support for young carers

Lots of young people care for someone else in their family. It can be a tiring and difficult job, especially when you have to fit it in around school or work.

There is support available to help make things a bit easier for you:

This information was published in May 2021. We will revise it in 2024.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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