Support for families & carers

Here is some information about what is available to support you in your caring role.

If you are caring for someone and need urgent help, please look at our urgent help pages. 

Looking after yourself

Caring for others can be really rewarding, especially when it's someone we love. But it can also be very hard, exhausting and sometimes even upsetting. It is okay, and it's important to look after yourself as well. You are just as important as the person you are caring for.

You might have always been a carer, or it might be something that is new to you due to a change in circumstances. Whatever your experience, there is support available to you in your role. 

We've developed a personal health and wellbeing booklet for family, friends and carers to help draw up a plan for how they can look after themselves while supporting someone they love and care about. 

The booklet makes some suggestions for things you might want to think about in drawing up a plan to look after yourself. There is no set formula, you can develop the plan to suit you.

Health and wellbeing plan for family, friends and carers


How to relate to the person you care for

To see someone you care about in mental distress can be frightening and bewildering. Many carers have described it as living with someone who has turned into a stranger. It can be difficult to know how to react, talk and behave. Every person is different and there are no set rules, but here are some general guidelines:

  • Be yourself.

  • Find out as much as you can about the mental health condition your friend or family member is experiencing and remember that they may behave and speak differently due to their symptoms.

  • Understand that mental illness is stressful for everyone and try to accept that you may experience a range of feelings, such as shock, fear, sadness, anger, frustration and despair.

  • Talking with other people will help you to deal with these feelings. It’s important to believe the person will recover, even if it will take some time and patience.

  • Try not to take it personally if the person says hurtful things to you when they're unwell.

  • When unwell, some people may express unusual beliefs and ideas. Don’t get involved in long disagreements, but listen with interest to try and understand their current reality and help them find a way of being less frightened or anxious. At times this might be upsetting for you so remember it is okay to step back and take a break when you need it. This might just be sitting in another room or going for a walk. 

  • It can be really easy to put yourself last when you are caring for someone else. It's natural to want to put your personal care aside but it's really important to make sure that you are eating, drinking, sleeping and getting fresh air and time away. This can be easier said than done but there are lots of organisations out there to support you. If you aren’t taking care of yourself it is very hard to care for someone else. 

  • Family, partners and friends are very important. When a person is experiencing an acute episode of distress, they can provide love, stability, understanding and reassurance, as well as help with practical issues.

Carers Z Card 
A handy double-sided card with lots of useful information and top tips, such as where to get help and support.

Support and confidentiality 
Our confidentiality policy explains how we support the confidentiality of you and the person you care for.

Online resources
Padlet - useful information for family and friend carers.

Brighton & Hove City Council
If you're a carer and experience your own emergency, Brighton and Hove City Council run an emergency back-up scheme which allows you to register a plan of support for the person you care for. This gives you peace of mind that whatever happens, the person you care for will be looked after. Visit Brighton and Hove City Council's website to find out more about the support you can access.

Care for the Carers
You can apply for a carers card from Care for the Carers. This card identifies you as a carer so that if you're ever in an emergency situation anyone taking care of you will know that someone depends on you and they will make sure they are taken care of. The card also offers savings at businesses across East Sussex.