Thursday, October 8, 1998 Published at 00:31 GMT 01:31 UK
Easing the burden of mental illness
Carers may need support to cope with a difficult task
More than one million carers of mentally ill people are to be offered greater support.
Developed by the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, the initiative aims to ensure that those who look after people with illnesses like schizophrenia and depression receive assistance with difficult situations.
Trained psychologists will help carers to cope with feelings of guilt about their loved one's illness and to deal better with stress.
Advice will also be available on how to apply to local authorities for home help support and respite care, and on how to claim benefits such as Disability Living Allowance.
Paul Corry, spokesman for the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, said: "There are huge burdens placed on carers.
"Parents of sons and daughters with schizophrenia worry that they brought them up wrongly, and also become fearful when the person they care for becomes withdrawn.
"This new programme will help them deal with those feelings, and it will also educate them about their rights and support groups in their area."
Health Minister Paul Boateng said: "Carers play a vital role in helping relatives or friends, and without their support, many people would lose the chance to stay in their own homes or with their own families.
"Carers deserve recognition for the sterling work they do."
The programme is backed by the Departments of Health and Social Security.
There are 5.7m carers in the UK of which one in four look after people with schizophrenia or depression.