Being a Caregiver

CAL’s C2C Education Programme is a free training programme providing comprehensive and deep coverage on what is mental illness. Caregivers are invited to attend the programme for a fuller and better understanding of mental illness and mental health in Singapore. Please see below for some basic understanding of mental illness.

Who is a caregiver of persons with mental illness?

A caregiver of persons with mental illness can be a direct family member, extended family members, or friends.

There are two kinds of caregivers: primary caregivers and secondary caregivers. The primary caregiver is the person who has the responsibility for the well-being of the person with mental illness. Often, this is the parent, or the spouse who makes all or most of the decisions, although others may help in this process. The secondary caregiver are typically other family members such as children, siblings or friends who have an interest in the well-being of the person with mental illness.

What are the key areas of caregiving?


Caregivers need to learn to care for themselves. Providing care for persons with mental illness has a great impact on the lives and emotions of the caregivers. When a caregiver first discovers that their loved one has a mental illness, they can be overwhelmed with shock, hopelessness or even denial. As the caregiver provides care on a daily, long term basis, they may experience chronic negative feelings such as anger, grief or remorse due to their caregiving situation.

It is crucial that caregivers first be aware of their own feelings and needs as a caregiver. Caregiver’s own emotional needs should first be met, as the quality of their care to their loved ones is related to how they are coping as a caregiver.

Medical Treatment

Effective medical treatment for persons with mental illness is necessary for the loved one to remain well. Without proper medication and treatment, they may often experience a plethora of symptoms. As a result, they may experience a relapse and be hospitalised.

Effective medication treatment involves the following:

  1. Right type of medication and medical dosage
  2. Medication adherence
  3. Good rapport and communication with the doctor

Effective Communication

Effective communication is the key for caregivers to understand and support their loved ones who have mental illness. It will enable caregivers to understand their needs and feelings, so that caregivers can share their love and concern. Without effective communication, caregivers may experience conflicts with their loved ones.

Engaging persons with mental illness in psychosocial programmes

Caregivers should encourage their loved ones with mental illness to participate in psychosocial programmes, such as counselling, psychiatric rehabilitation and wellness management, to facilitate their own recovery, especially if they are doing nothing at home. These programmes should be in line with their recovery goals.

Creating a supportive environment

Caregivers are encouraged to create a supportive home environment which is conducive to the recovery of their loved ones of mental illness. A stressful home environment with many conflicts may trigger the worsening of their loved one’s mental conditions, or lead to a relapse. On the other hand, a supportive and peaceful home environment provides opportunities and space for persons with mental illness to work out his/her own recovery.