Caring for someone with mental ill health

Caring for someone with mental ill health

Each year one in four people will experience a mental health issue and the most common conditions are anxiety and depression. On average one or two people in 100 will experience a severe mental illness.

Anyone of any age who provides vital help and support to a person with mental health issues is regarded as a carer. Many people are not carers by choice and at times it can be very difficult trying to cope.

The fear of stigma can also act as barrier to people seeking support they desperately need. Caring for someone with a mental health issue can be demanding, it is important to take advantage of the support services available. Many people feel more comfortable getting support from people in the same situation.

Getting support

Derbyshire Carers Association offer information, advice, 1-to-1 support and local carer support groups. You can find further details of groups and services near you in the carers directory.

Carers Assessments look at how your caring role is impacting on your own health and wellbeing. They are carried out by a worker who will look at what help and support services are available to support you in your caring role. Support could include access to sitting services so you can have a break from your caring role.

A Mental Health Support Line is now available to Derbyshire residents of all ages. Call tel: 0800 028 0077 - this is a freephone number and calls from landlines and mobiles should be free.  The support line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is available for carers and families supporting someone with mental ill health.

The Mental Health Forum is an online discussion forum for carers of people with mental health issues.

North Derbyshire Voluntary Action have a list of local community groups that can help support carers and people with mental health issues. 

Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust offer support services for people with mental health issues. They also have advice and information for mental health carers, including information about the Triangle of Care.

The Trust have also developed a 'situation, background, assessment, recommendation and decision (SBARD)' card to help families and carers get the help they need. The card encourages you to think about what you want to say and get your thoughts clear in your own head before you speak to professionals involved in your loved one's care.

Mental health carer forums

Mental health carer forums offer support to anyone who is caring for someone with a mental health problem. Group members all have experience of looking after someone with mental ill health and provide help, support and information to each other. New members are always welcome. There are two forums that cover Derbyshire:

  • Derby City and South Derbyshire Mental Health Carer Forum also hold monthly meetings in Derby and offer stress buster groups in the south of the county (including Long Eaton and Ripley). Please see the Carers Directory for further information about group meetings or contact tel: 07921 162740 or 07779 107087
  • Mental Health Carers Community: Chesterfield and North Derbyshire hold monthly meetings where carers have the opportunity to discuss their concerns openly and informally with professional advisors present. Visiting guest speakers discuss issues affecting carers and their loved ones, offering advice and sign posting to relevant organisations. The group also offer local support groups across the north of the county where carers can unwind and chat to each other. They also run a carers art group in Chesterfield. For further information please see the Carers Directory (search carers support group / mental health) or contact group committee members on tel: 07730526219.

Further information

It is helpful to understand what help is available in your local area. For more information about what services, support and advice is available for carers of people with mental health issues, please search the Carers Directory on this website.

Derbyshire County Council have recently produced a Guide to Mental Health and Wellbeing which has information about support services for both carers of people with mental health problems and the person they care for. There lots of information about mental health and wellbeing on their website.

What to do if the person you care for is in crisis

If you feel like the person you care for is unable to manage their symptoms and you feel unsafe, you should contact your GP or NHS 111 if out-of-hours. For immediate, life-threatening emergencies, call tel: 999.

If you, or someone you care about, is experiencing mental ill health and is in a crisis or emergency situation, the following organisations can help:

  • The person you care for's GP - if possible your first point of contact should be their GP, as they will know their medical history and will decide the best action to take.
  • If a health or social care professional (a care co-ordinator or key worker) has given you a specific phone number to call when you are concerned about the person you care for's condition, continue to use that number.
  • Adult Care - during office hours Call Derbyshire on tel: 01629 533190 - the call centre is open between 8am to 8pm on Monday to Friday, and 9:30am to 4:30pm on Saturday to provide you with a speedy and direct response.
  • Adult Care Out of Hours - in an emergency outside of normal office hours, call the Emergency Duty Team on tel: 01629 532600.

The 'are you a carer in crisis?' page offers further help and advice. You can also see Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust's crisis support page.

If the person you look after has to have a Mental Health Act Assessment you can find information about this, including a leaflet aimed at carers on the Derbyshire County Council website.

Helping the person you care for deal with their mental health problems

It is helpful to plan for mental health related crises in advance. This could include planning for an emergency in case you are unable to carry out your caring role due to illness, or a list of strategies and activities for helping the person you care for through a difficult time.

Scottish Young Carers have developed a guide that is useful for all carers and gives practical tips on how to help people suffering bouts of depression, panic attacks, bi-polar episodes and self-harm. The guide was written for young carers but gives useful advice for anyone caring for someone with mental health issues.

There are a range of services commissioned for people with mental and emotional ill health in Derbyshire including a Recovery and Peer Support Services, talking therapies and an Enablement Service. The Recovery and Peer Support Service have put together an interactive map of mental health services including peer support, crisis services, counselling and helplines.


Advocacy is taking action to help vulnerable people say what they want, secure their rights, represent their interests and help them to get the support they need.

There are many different types of advocacy services but an advocate is generally independent and free from conflicts of interest. People with mental health problems are legally entitled to an advocate if they are detained under the Mental Health Act. 

Healthwatch Mental Health Together Service

Healthwatch Derbyshire provide a mental health service receiver and carer engagement service called Mental Health Together. The service allows people with mental health issues and their carers to be involved in developing local care and health services. For further information please contact Healthwatch - tel: 01773 880786 or email: 

Eating disorders

If you care for someone with an eating disorder you can get support from First Steps. Their website has information and advice for carers and they also run workshops to help carers understand their loved one's condition.

The Herbert Protocol

The Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a Second World War veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia and repeatedly went missing from his care home whilst trying to return home.

The Protocol is a national scheme which is being introduced by Derbyshire Constabulary and other local agencies. The scheme encourages carers to compile useful information which could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

Carers, family members and friends or professionals can complete the Herbert protocol form containing the information in advance. The form records all vital details, such as medication required, mobile numbers, places previously located, a photograph etc which will help locate the person if they ever go missing.

In the event of your family member or friend going missing, the form can be easily sent or handed to the police to reduce the time taken in gathering this information. 

Other helpful websites

This information was last updated on 05/07/2022

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