New Studies Reveal Higher Rates Of Mental Health Issues In Families With Intellectual Disability
Family caregivers for individuals with intellectual disabilities were 10 times more likely to have an episode of severe anxiety and major depression, according to studies from Swansea University. The challenges faced by caregivers, especially mothers, have been largely overlooked during the pandemic. In fact, caregiver burnout is considered a major obstacle in providing the utmost medical care for those in need, whether it be at home or at a healthcare facility. During the pandemic in particular, parents have found it more difficult to handle their children or family members due to lack of finances, supportive assistance, or their own health issues. It is important that these challenges aren't disregarded or minimized, as they may affect the family as a whole.
Mental Health of Caregivers
According to the Cerebral Palsy Family Network, it is important to be aware of the increased risk of mental and behavioral health disorders among those with disabilities such as Cerebral Palsy, as well as their care providers. Another study by the University of Warwick showed that caregivers of adults and children with mental disabilities were 5 times more likely to have severe anxiety episodes. Not to mention, caregivers were also 4 times more likely to incur an episode of major depression than families without disabilities.
This is partly due to the economic recession that forced family members to budget around bills and food rather than educational development. In fact, these problems are over what is annually expected pre-pandemic and are magnified in low-income households. Closures of special daycares and adult health services have also added extra work and responsibilities for family members to care for loved ones while maintaining their home and work responsibilities.
The focus of burnout care is to re-instill the normalcy of everyday life into parents without leaving their responsibilities behind and take control of their health. Social support from family members and friends have shown to decrease the severity and occurrences of anxiety and depression in parents. Numerous studies have shown that it gives them time to reconnect with friends and loved ones who can offer advice or help, or maybe just a shoulder to lean on during difficult times.
Learning a new hobby such as cooking, reading, sewing can help reduce mental stress on a daily basis. A regular fitness routine would also drastically improve your physical and mental health while giving yourself time "to blow off steam" or simply focus on yourself when the opportunity is needed.
By keeping in mind the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities and their primary caretakers, people can better navigate their day-to-day responsibilities without approaching burnout.