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Oxfordshire Rethink Carers Support Service

Rethink Mental Illness, the mental health charity, which started work in Oxford in 2000, offers support to carers looking after people with mental illness, such as depression and schizophrenia. The charity gives carers one-to-one weekly sessions to discuss emotional and practical issues.

Julie Males from Rethink Mental Illness, comments: “Carers often don’t realise the amount of effort that it takes to look after someone and often they forget to look after themselves. We help them to keep both mentally and physically healthy. We advise carers on issues such as eating well, going back to work and finding a life outside of being a carer. We feel very strongly that the work that carers do should be recognized by all.”

One of the carers who attends the Rethink service has cared for her daughter, 31, who has severe depression for the past nine years. She says: “I came to Rethink Mental Illness a year ago. They have helped me immensely because they listen to me in a non-judgmental way and they show me how to get the best care for me and my daughter.”

How you can access the service

If you would like support, you can refer yourself by phoning, writing or emailing us at our contact details. Alternatively, you can ask a professional such as your GP or social worker of the person you care for to give us your details, and we can then contact you. It’s not a cumbersome referral process, you will only be asked for a few details and there are no waiting lists, you can be seen as soon as you like. All our services are free.

Once you make contact with the service, then you will be allocated a carer support worker (this will usually be based on geographical area, but you can change your worker if you wish). They will then discuss the variety of support on offer, and together you will decide what you need.

This will be reviewed regularly between you and your carer support worker, as the needs of people change over time. For example you may want to initially meet your carer support worker weekly, then after a couple of months feel happy just to meet them monthly and attend a support group.

What support can we provide?

The support we offer is very flexible and depends on your needs. Consequently you can ‘pick and choose’ from what’s on offer, and this can be adjusted over time. For individual appointments we can meet you at a time and place convenient for you. Some carers we meet in coffee shops, others in their own homes whist some carers prefer to meet in a neutral, private environment such as at a GP surgery. It is what best suits your needs.

Support provided includes:

  • Monthly support groups throughout Oxfordshire
  • Caring and Coping Course
  • Support group and psycho education course specifically for the family and friends of people with complex emotional needs and/or personality disorders
  • Individual and emotional support in person, over the telephone and via email
  • Information and Resources
  • Newsletter
  • Advice regarding your rights
  • Advocacy- such as liaising with the care team of the person you care for

We are continually developing, so will be offering even more services in the future.

How can I become involved?

Many carers find it beneficial to become involved with the service and other carer activist groups.

You can become involved in a number of ways including writing articles for the newsletter, delivering training, being present on interview panels and taking part in consultation and research projects.

There are also a number of carer activists groups in the county such as the Carers Reference Group, who would welcome new members. If you would like to become involved then please contact the service for further information.

For more information, please contact Julie Males on 01865 455880.


Publication date: July 2012.

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