12 December 2022

When it comes to supporting mental health carers, just having someone to listen can make all the difference, according to Mind Australia Carer Helpline practitioner, Laura Anstee. 

Laura is a registered Occupational Therapist, who has her own lived experience, including being in a caregiving role. 

She uses her knowledge through the Carer Helpline – an over-the-phone support service for those caring for a person experiencing mental health and wellbeing challenges. 

Laura brings understanding and genuine empathy to her work because she has been there herself, having cared for her elderly grandparents in the past.  

“I was a secondary carer for my Nan and Grandad. I certainly have that firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to be caring for people you love who are experiencing challenges,” Laura said.   

“My own lived experiences are central to my role. The caring lived experience that I have deeply informs how I see things on an almost unconscious level - it’s a part of me.” 

Being able to relate to family members and carers reaching out for support is one of the factors that motivated Laura to join the Carer Helpline team.  

“I love the opportunity to explore deeply the issues carers are facing and figure out how we can problem solve together,” she said. 

“Distress is a common theme we see through the Carer Helpline. Often times people will tell us that they are feeling lonely or isolated, and that they are losing friends due to their caring responsibilities.” 

Caring for a person experiencing mental health and wellbeing challenges can also leave a carer emotionally drained and mentally exhausted, so the Carer Helpline aims to normalise their experiences, help them cope and reduce the trauma often associated with caring. 

Mind’s Carer Helpline provides over-the-phone support, and can help carers access services like counselling, respite, carer education, support groups and a friendly ear to listen. 

“We have a dedicated team of volunteers who have a passion for supporting carers,” Laura said. 

“It’s important that carers have a space where they can feel safe and comfortable to be themselves. Each carer is unique and important, and we are here to listen.”   

“We provide carers with emotional support, educational resources, workshops and groups that run yearlong to provide a break from everyday life. We find ways that we can help them, and how they can help themselves.” 

The Carer Helpline can be accessed by calling 1300 554 660. The service is open from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday to Friday, excluding public holidays. You, or the person you care for, do not have to be a Mind client to access this service. 

If this article raises immediate concerns for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders can also call 13 YARN (13 92 76) a 24/7 national crisis support telephone service staffed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.