December 17, 2009
Arlington, VA—The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) praises a new report, Caregiving in the U.S. 2009, which offers a revealing portrait of the nearly one-in-three American adults who serve as a family caregiver.
The study is based on interviews with 1,480 caregivers chosen at random and offers a national profile of people caring for adults, the elderly and children with special needs. It follows similar studies conducted in 2004 and 1997, but for the first time, caregivers for children, as well as those caring for adults over the age of 18, were surveyed.
The report echoes the findings of NAMI’s own depression survey and schizophrenia survey, which include the perspective of caregivers for people living with these serious mental illnesses. All these reports suggest that caregivers face daily stresses that can impact their own health and other relationships. For example, NAMI’s depression survey, released in November, found that while almost one-half (48 percent) of caregivers for people with depression have been diagnosed with depression themselves, only about 25 percent were engaged in treatment at the time of the survey.
“We know from our own studies that caregivers make significant sacrifices to care for their loved ones living with mental illness,” said Michael Fitzpatrick, NAMI executive director. “The findings of this new report will help us anticipate the needs of caregivers so that we can improve NAMI’s education and support programs.”
NAMI offers a variety of peer education and support programs, including those specifically for caregivers.
Family-to-Family is a free, twelve-week course for family caregivers of individuals with severe mental illnesses. The course is taught by trained family members and more than 115,000 family members have graduated from this national program. The course is also available in Spanish.
NAMI Basics is an education program for parents and other caregivers of children and adolescents living with mental illnesses. The course is taught by trained teachers who are the parent or other caregivers of individuals who developed the symptoms of mental illness prior to the age of 13 years.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a non-partisan organization with 1100 state and local affiliates, dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness. Dedication, steadfast commitment and unceasing belief in NAMI's mission by grassroots advocates have produced profound changes.