Providing care for a critically ill loved one can be enormously stressful and can negatively impact the health of caregivers. Whether caring for someone with a mental illness (between 40% and 50% of people with schizophrenia live with their families), dementia or any other critical illness, the burden is great. A recent University of Toronto study found:
- More than half of caregivers had high levels of depression (67% were depressed at the start of the study, and 43% were depressed after one year of follow-up).
- The depression decreased somewhat with time in 84% of the caregivers, but did not in 16%.
- Caregivers who were younger, who had to give up regular activities for caregiving, and who had lost a sense of control over their lives tended to be worse off than the rest.
The mental health of caregivers is just one of the huge costs associated with caregiving. The OMHF developed this research priority in collaboration with sector leaders, including Schizophrenia Society of Ontario; Addictions and Mental Health Ontario; and Canadian Mental Health Association.
For the 2016-2017 funding cycle, the OMHF is seeking innovative proposals (grants, fellowships and studentships) that address this challenge. We encourage with mental health agencies. Researchers should ensure that their statement about the mental health relevance of their proposed research is clearly stated. The review committee still looks to the researchers to be as explicit as possible. They should consider the following platforms in making their case:
- Improve mental health and well-being of all Ontarians
- Create healthy, resilient, inclusive communities
- Identify mental health and addictions problems early and intervene
- Provide timely, high quality, integrated, person-directed health and other human services
- Access - Providing the right care for mental health and addiction
- Connect - Deliver better coordinated and integrated care in the community, closer to home
- Inform - Expanding mental health programs in schools and workplaces
- Protect - More public reports on health system performance, more innovative approaches based on evidence, expanding patient engagement