Prior to Christmas if you are caring for someone with a mental health issue, take time to plan ahead.
Here are some Carers Christmas Tips from Arafmi (the Mental Health Carers & Friends Associations (WA).To download the pdf of these tips click here:
If someone has been avoiding social situations, plan how you will be spending Christmas.
Even family can be difficult for someone who is unwell to be around. Depending on how well someone is will depend on some of the issues for carers. But remember the need for people to feel safe and belong is so important at Christmas.Talk to the person who is unwell and ask them what would make it easier for them to attend family or social dinner, this may be:
-Having a set time as to how long they need to be there e.g. 4 – 6.30?
-Having a safe place to go to if the social situation gets too much (this could be a room or a part of the
garden where they can be alone)
-Knowing who is going to be there, and who they do not want to spend too much time with ( think we
can all agree that there are some family members who can be difficult to be around)
-If they are a smoker can they smoke? Recognise that this is a coping mechanism
-Is there going to be alcohol, is this going to be problematic for the person as they do not like alcohol or
perhaps drinking alcohol can be problematic
-Medication – does this make the person drowsy?If the behaviour of the person who is unwell causes concerns for family members again plan ahead
-What are the behaviours that they find difficult, talk about these and decide how each of you will cope,
educate family on how to cope with these behaviours
-Set boundaries with family members, and be realistic about these boundaries. If someone should avoid
alcohol do not have other guests drinking alcohol
-If you set boundaries think of what the consequences will be and advise the person that if they choose
to spend the holidays with you what those boundaries will be
-If the person you care for can get agitated look at how you/they can cope and ensure that they have
somewhere to go that is a safe place to chill
-If there are triggers that upset the person you care for try to avoid these
-What has worked in previous years and what is sure to failDual diagnosis can be difficult to understand, but many use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with difficulties.
We may not all agree with this form of coping as we can see the increased difficulties it causes. However take time to take on board that often this is their only means of coping, and that often those with dual diagnosis find it difficult to have caring supportive relationships.
-People with dual diagnosis often have behaviours which others find difficult to accept, think about the
behaviours that you can accept at this time of the year
-Talk to the person that you care about, what can you agree to
-If the person is unlikely to not abstain from alcohol can you have a small amount at home that allows the
person to have a coping mechanism but hopefully prevent over indulgence
-Think about the time that you can meet the person, perhaps breakfast or brunch is better and easier to
avoid substances, suggest a neutral location for all family members
-Rather than inviting the person you care for to your house where you would not allow them to have
drugs or alcohol you go to theirs. This allows you to recognise their right to drink alcohol but stating the
boundaries that you will accept
Merry Christmas from Arafmi!!