All caregiving can be exhausting, frustrating, overwhelming and stressful but for the caregivers of those with a mental health issue the societal stigma you face creates additional challenges. Addressing the need for greater understanding for mental illness, Oscar-nominated and Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress Glenn Close wants to help lift the veil of mental illness, reveal the myths and eliminate the shame associated with bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health issues through a new public service campaign.
According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, 1 in 4 adults in the U.S. has a diagnosable mental disorder and the average age is 14 for the on-set of mental illness. Glenn has become a champion who is shedding light on the dark world of bi-polar disorder which affects her sister and her nephew. Appearing on the TV morning show, Good Morning America, Glenn said she believes we need to be having discussions around mental illness and talk as openly as we do about other diseases such as cancer or diabetes.
Glenn and her sister star in a public service announcement (PSA) campaign on mental health issues created by BringChange2Mind, the nonprofit organization Glenn helped found to eliminate the discrimination felt by those with mental illness and their family caregiver. Her hope is increased awareness will get more people to seek help.
Caregiver Depression a Slippery Slope
In a study of caregiver health risks, the National Alliance for Caregiving reported that 91 percent of those caregivers whose health was in decline reported suffering from depression over caring for a loved one. We also know that for those 15 million Americans caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease, the risk of becoming isolated from friends and other family and life’s typical connections is a common issue based on how their loved one is shamed by their diagnosis. According to the Alzheimer’s Disease International’s World Alzheimer Report 2012, about 25 percent of people with dementia report hiding or concealing their diagnosis due to the stigma surrounding the disease, and 40 percent say they are often excluded from everyday life. This can also lead to depression for the family caregiver.
It is important that caregivers understand depression and their risk, know the signs and get screened (October 11 is National Depression Screening Day ) if they feel they cannot come out of ongoing depression and find support – whether through professional therapy, medication or support groups.