Self-care is very often the last consideration for caregivers. I have seen this time and time again at family support meetings, and I have heard all the excuses. It is something I talk about often because it was significant in my life when I actually started taking care of myself. Taking a break helps you to provide better support because you are less stressed. Many people though, do not take this seriously. Some people think that they the not the issue and there are more important things to focus on. This is so wrong. I will only say that if you do nothing else, take care of yourself because it is absolutely essential.
There is also Family Peer Support. This primarily takes the form of a family member who has experienced having a loved one with a mental illness lending an empathetic ear, sharing knowledge and strategies that they have found successful, and helping to find community resources. Just having someone who has been there themselves listen to your issues with compassion, can be a significant stress relief. Someone who is nonjudgmental, who can share possible ways for you to handle issues that arise, or can help you navigate the mental health system can be a tremendous help.
Family support can also mean support for families of people with a mental illness. This support is often facilitated by other family members who are going through or have gone through the experience of having a family member with a mental illness. These family peer facilitators share knowledge and strategies that work for them and are understanding listeners who have experienced supporting a loved one with mental illness. Support for families can also be provided by service providers or mental health professionals. There was very little support for families in the past, but in recent years it has been improving.