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Media Release - Launch of National Family Caregivers Month Campaign



MEDIA RELEASE


“Uncovering & Empowering Hidden Heroes” campaign seeks to shatter stereotypes about mental health caregivers A CAL-Milieu study found that more than 1 in 4 people in Singapore provide support for someone with a mental health issue. Joint effort by community partners features a themed train, asks “Are You A Caregiver?” to spark caregiver self-identification, drive help-seeking behaviour and raise awareness of available resources.


Singapore, 1 November, 2022 – A public-awareness campaign that seeks to challenge stereotypes about mental health and dementia caregivers and drive help-seeking behaviour was launched today. Marking National Family Caregivers Month, the “Uncovering & Empowering Hidden Heroes” campaign employs the use of a themed train on the Northeast Line (NEL) to get people rethinking the concept of a caregiver, and if they could be one.


Spearheaded by Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL), the only non-profit in Singapore dedicated to supporting mental health caregivers, the campaign is a collective effort by like-minded organisations, including several that offer caregiver services.


These are Care Corner Singapore, Club HEAL, Institute of Mental Health (IMH), Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS), Milieu Insight, Singapore Anglican Community Services, Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH), Mental Health Film Festival Singapore; with the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson in Singapore on board as corporate sponsor, and Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) and AMKFSC Community Services (AMKFSC) as supporting partners.


“There are many caregivers in our midst who don’t see themselves as caregivers, and this prevents them from seeking help and support,” said Mr Tim Lee, CEO of Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL). “By presenting relatable stories and posing the question, “Are You A Caregiver?”, we hope people will start thinking about how they may be caring for someone in their family, social or work circle who has a mental health concern or dementia, and drive them to seek resources that can help ease their journey.”


About 1 out of every 4 of us are caregivers


A recent study conducted by Milieu Insight in partnership with CAL revealed that 27% of people in Singapore - more than 1 in every 4 - are caring for someone with a mental health condition. These caregivers were categorised into the following:

  • Primary caregivers (provide most of the support/care) (5%)

  • Secondary caregivers (support the primary caregiver in providing support/care) (5%)

  • Ad hoc caregivers (provide care from time to time) (17%).

“There are many different types of caregivers that don’t fit the usual profile when we think about caregivers. Besides family caregivers, we have people attending our programmes because they have stepped up to care for someone they barely know; or anticipate becoming caregivers to their elderly parents; some are even caregivers to themselves,” said Mr Lee.


Among primary caregivers surveyed, 51% reported feeling stressed ‘often or all the time’, compared to 40% of the general population.


'Mental health conversations don’t often bring up caregivers of people with mental health conditions, so we’re glad to partner with Caregivers Alliance under our Milieu For Good initiative, to shine light on the well-being of caregivers in Singapore.


“The study found that more than 1 in 4 among us are caregivers to people with mental health conditions, and nearly two-thirds (65%) of caregivers surveyed also expressed that they are not having enough support for their caregiving responsibilities. Not forgetting that it can already be a challenging journey to balance providing support and caring for one’s own well-being, these are the hidden heroes among us who deserve more recognition for their contributions,' said Mr Stephen Tracy, Chief Operating Officer, Milieu Insight.


The Many Faces of Caregivers


To support the primary caregivers who may have given up their jobs to provide full-time care, there are often secondary or ad hoc caregivers who step in to help when needed, or who provide emotional or financial support.


Siblings, colleagues or friends often fulfil these roles, which helps in taking the burden off the primary caregiver. Primary caregivers often worry that no one will care for their loved one after they are gone.


"Family caregivers, including siblings of persons with special needs constantly struggle with balancing what they are traditionally expected to do as caregivers against achieving their aspirations, and often must choose one over the other,” said Ms Ong Lay Hoon, Director of MINDS Community-based Support Services.


“To empower siblings to build positive relationships with their siblings with special needs from young, MINDSibs, one of MINDS caregiver support programmes, engages members in a wide range of activities that allow them to foster friendships, garner peer support and grow social networks among themselves."

What Kind of Caregiver Could We Be?

  • Primary Caregiver – The main caregiver to a family member, partner or friend etc.,

  • Secondary or Ad Hoc Caregiver – Someone who assumes a supporting role to the primary caregiver, whether financially, emotionally or by standing in for the primary caregiver on occasion

  • Caregiver to Self – Caring for yourself if you are living with a mental health issue

  • Caregiver To Be – All of us may potentially need to support someone with dementia or a mental health issue. It is best to be prepared.

Why it is important for caregivers to self-identify


Caring for someone with a mental health issue or dementia can be a long, tough and lonely journey. The majority of caregivers expressed that their experiences of providing care and support to people with mental health condition(s) have been “very challenging” (26%) “challenging” (35%) or “somewhat challenging” (36%). 65% also indicated not having enough support for their caregiving responsibilities.


“Caregiver stress has become more pronounced. More practical and emotional support, such as respite care, for caregivers, particular primary caregivers, enabling them to take breaks from their duties or find time for self-care would certainly help them to achieve better health status,” said Ms Ngo Lee Yian, Executive Director of Singapore Association for Mental Health (SAMH).


“As a community mental health social service agency, SAMH provides a wide range of mental health services, where we not only journey with their loved ones in recovery, but also provide support to the caregivers. It is therefore important that we, as a community, continue to enhance mental health literacy and make resources more accessible, not only to reduce stigma, but to recognise the importance of having good mental wellness for everyone.”


By encouraging more people to self-identify as caregivers, the campaign hopes to prompt them to come forward to be better equipped, and to learn about the help and resources available to them.


“Prioritising self-care and taking intentional steps to prevent burnout is key. By helping individuals recognise their roles as caregivers, they are in a better position to care for themselves and their loved ones,” shared Mr Matthias Skillecorn, Area Managing Director, Janssen Southeast Asia. “As a corporate sponsor, we believe that we can advance healthy outcomes by ensuring everyone has access to information, programmes and support they need to care for themselves.”


Caring for someone with a mental health issue or dementia is often a role that people are thrown into and not equipped for, caregivers can experience burnout and feelings of helplessness. In fact, caregivers often fall victim to mental health issues themselves. In encouraging more people to self-identify as caregivers, the campaign hopes to prompt more to come forward to be trained and to learn about the help and resources available to them.


“Caregivers are so time-strapped and may not know where to seek help when confronted with challenging situations. We want them to not only know that resources are available but also help them access support easily and quickly,” shares Mr Joseph Eio, Director of Mental Health and Counselling Services, Care Corner Singapore.


The non-profit organisation just launched a platform (carey.carecorner.org.sg) that allows caregivers and youths going through mental health challenges to access free mental health check-ins and make appointments for counselling help 24/7.


Concept Train on NEL asks commuters “Are You A Caregiver?”


Guest-of-Honour President Halimah Yacob launched the train at HarbourFront MRT station this morning witnessed by caregivers, campaign partners and the media. Mdm President had the opportunity to speak with some of the caregivers who have benefited from the services offered by CAL and partner organisations.


Designed by local design consultancy The Press Room, the train features eye-catching images that defy the darker, more serious visual themes that often surround the topic of mental health. The campaign aims to take a different approach, by creating uplifting and colourful interactive elements such as a friendly cloud pouring rainbows on the seated commuters, and floor stickers prompting commuters to ponder if they are a caregiver. The train will run for four weeks starting today and is expected to reach over 52,000 commuters using the 16 stations between the Northern and Eastern regions of Singapore.


Commuters can scan a QR code that leads them to the campaign website at www.cal.org.sg/hiddenheroes. More useful information and caregiver stories will be added to the website and social media channels through the month.


Snippets of facts, real-life stories and data draw attention to the fact that that 1 in every 4 people on the train could be a caregiver, and commuters are encouraged to scan a QR code that leads to an online library of stories, information about mental health caregiving, campaign partners and their caregiver-relevant service offerings.


The panels above the windows give a glimpse into the lives of the different types of caregivers.


The campaign seeks to challenge the caregiver stereotype, presenting caregivers of various ages, genders and backgrounds to highlight the fact that anyone can be a caregiver; and that each person with mental health concerns likely has several secondary caregivers who are just as vital to the person’s well-being.


Caregivers and their stories of struggle and hope are a key element of the campaign, with schizophrenia, depression, anxiety and eating disorders being highlighted on the train visuals.


“In asking people to reflect on whether they are caregivers, and by sharing real life stories from caregivers across the demographic spectrum, we hope to prompt conversations about caregiving and realise that in some way or other, most of us are or will be caregivers,” said Mr Lee.


For more information, please contact:


Ms Tricia Lee Head of Communications, Caregivers Alliance Limited Email: tricialee@cal.org.sg

Mobile: +65 9150 7199 Ms Grace Lim

Communications Executive, Caregivers Alliance Limited Email: gracelim@cal.org.sg

Mobile: +65 9824 5141



About Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL)


CAL is the only non-profit organisation in Singapore dedicated to training and empowering mental health caregivers through education and support. Support for this group is crucial as their journey can be physically, mentally and emotionally demanding.


The Caregivers-to-Caregivers (C2C) Programme for Persons with Mental Health Issues (PMHI) is CAL's signature training programme. It is a fully funded 12-week course for caregivers to gain in-depth understanding of mental health conditions, and enable them to care for their loved ones better through learning about self-care, communication, resilience building, advocacy and available community resources.


CAL also offers 8-week Dementia and Eating Disorder programmes, as well as a Young Caregiver Programme for those aged between 15 and 35.


For more information about CAL, visit www.cal.org.sg.





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