Running from October 10 to 16 2021, National Carers Week is a time to recognise and celebrate the 2.65 million Australians who provide care and support to a family member or friend.
This National Carers Week, we caught up with our ARAFMI Hunter Counselling Coordinator, Coralie, about her role in supporting mental health carers.
How would you describe your role?
My role is Counselling Coordinator for Samaritans Mental Health Carers ARAFMI Hunter. I have been working for ARAFMI for many years and have seen many changes within the organisation. One thing that has never changed and is my passion for supporting anyone who has a loved one with mental illness.
I manage the day the day to day running of ARAFMI as well as provide counselling for many Carers.
Having several family members with mental illness, I have grown up having a good understanding of the impact mental health has on family and friends. How isolating this can be, how stigma around mental health can change people’s lives, and the ripple effect this has in the wider community. This led me to the career of being a Professional Counsellor and working in this sector.
Things I do for my own mental health: daily walks, yoga, meditation, listen to music, read, scrapbooking family photos and staying in regular contact with family and friends. During lockdown daily text messages, phone calls and video calls with family and friends. Looking forward to cuddling my grandchildren again, barbeques with family and catch ups with friends.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Working with my clients (carers) and seeing the difference it makes in their lives. Helping carers to manage their own lives in a healthier way whilst being there to love and support their loved ones. Encouraging carers to be part of a team and recognising they don’t have to do it on their own, that it’s ok to ask for help.
What are you most passionate about?
Being there to listen and give empathy to carers so they feel heard, understood and have a voice. To educate and provide carers with skills to self-care, to set boundaries, and communicate in healthier ways. Along with many other things that can help carers have less stress and more positivity in their life.
What does the National Carer’s Week theme ‘Millions of Reasons to Care’ mean to you?
There are many different types of Carers. At ARAFMI we define a carer as someone who has a loved one, friend or family, who has mental illness. They don’t necessarily have to be living with that person or physically caring for them, although sometimes they do both.
I believe it is important to acknowledge our carers and let them know we value all they do. The theme ‘Millions of Reasons to Care’ means we should acknowledge and validate carers for all the work they do. For many it’s a lifetime role that they do selflessly. ‘Where would we be without Carers?’ Is a question I think we should all give some thought to.
Carers give so much of themselves; it is important they get to fill their cup. If they don’t, they can burn out and their own physical and mental health will suffer. It is not sustainable to care for others unless you care for yourself first.
Thank you to our ARAFMI Mental Health Carers and to each and every carer across Australia for all that you do!
ARAFMI Hunter Mental Health Carers offer support and counselling for the families and friends of people with mental illness. ARAFMI Hunter Mental Health Carers has been operating in the Hunter since 1979 to support anyone caring for someone with mental illness. The service joined Samaritans in 2019.