The mental health of Australians 2

10. Caregiving

Page last updated: May 2009

Many people in the general community care for a relative with a mental disorder or a chronic physical condition, and this can place a physical, emotional and financial burden on the carer themselves.

Around one third (31.2%) of people did not have a relative with either a mental disorder or a chronic physical condition. Of the remaining 68.8% of the population:

  • 12.8% had a relative with a mental disorder in the absence of a chronic physical condition
  • 28.8% had a relative with a chronic physical condition in the absence of a mental disorder and
  • 26.3% had a relative with both a mental disorder and a chronic physical condition.
Among people who had relatives with mental disorders only, almost one third (32.3%) were in a caregiving role. One quarter (24.7%) of people who had a relative with a chronic physical disorder only were in a caregiving role. Whereas two-fifths (40.6%) of people with a relative with both a mental disorder and a chronic physical condition were in a caregiving role (figure 10-1).

There was a marked difference in the mental health status of caregivers themselves. The survey found a prevalence of 33.3% for mental disorders in people who were in a caregiving role, compared to a prevalence of 20.0% in the general population. The prevalence of 12-month mental disorders was higher both for people who provided care for relatives with mental disorders only and for those providing care for relatives with both mental disorders and chronic physical conditions (35.1 and 35.9% respectively). Whereas the prevalence of mental disorders among people who provided care for relatives with only chronic physical conditions was similar to that of the general population (19.3% compared to 20.0%).

Figure 10-1: Caregiving by health status of relatives

Text equivalent below for Caregiving by health status of relatives

Text version of figure 10-1

Care-giving by health status of relatives:
  • Relatives with a mental disorder - 32.3%
  • Relatives with a chronic physical condition - 24.7%
  • Relatives with a mental disorder and chronic physical condition - 40.6%
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