The effect of respite services on carers of individuals with severe mental illness
Many individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) require the support of an informal carer, such as a family member or close friend, to assist with everyday living. The difficulties and altered life circumstances experienced by individuals with SMI result in carers taking on significant responsibilities. The current study aimed to address the benefits to carers of several days relief from their caring responsibilities. Carers ( N = 9) of a cohort of individuals with SMI who attended a therapeutic recreation initiative, Recovery Camp, were surveyed in late May 2015. A custom-designed instrument using open and closed questions was administered. Data were analyzed using the constant-comparative method. Participants reported negative health effects that they directly associated with their caring responsibilities. The experience of having a break when their care recipient attended Recovery Camp was positive for all participants, highlighting the need for respite services. Further research is required to explore the specific respite needs of individuals who provide care to those with SMI to reduce the burden experienced by these vulnerable populations.