A four-part series on caregiving, featuring Christine and Nadia, two caregivers who completed CAL’s C2C programme. Reproduced with permission from SMU's Social Space magazine. View the original series here: https://socialspacemag.org/hidden-heroes-tales-from-caregivers-part-1
About the Author
Jaya Myler is a non-profit manager and marketing and communications specialist. She has worked with international NGOs and managed corporate and consumer brands, and has extensive experience with non-profits focused on education, the environment, providing access to clean water and sanitation. Jaya is passionate about the power of collaboration to drive innovation and achieve impact. She has also volunteered extensively with charities in the areas of housing, education and multi-sector partnerships. Jaya, an Australian, has been living and working in Asia for the past eight years, and has called Singapore home for nearly six. Connect with her on LinkedIn.
Caregiving is a role with no job description or pay, yet it comes at a great cost to the caregivers themselves. These individuals devote much of their time and energy to see to the needs of loved ones with physical or mental health conditions, and this process can take a toll on their own physical, financial, emotional and psychological well-being. Most caregivers have been thrust into the role due to circumstances beyond their control, are not trained or sufficiently equipped for it, and they usually balance caregiving with other responsibilities such as full-time jobs or studies.
However, the work of these “hidden heroes” often goes entirely unnoticed by wider society, causing them to feel invisible and underappreciated.
Did you know that one in seven Singaporeans are affected by mental health issues in their lifetime? If we assumed that one caregiver looked after every person with a mental illness, there are an estimated half a million caregivers in the country. According to my interview with Caregivers Alliance Limited (CAL), a non-profit that provides support and training to caregivers of persons with mental health issues (PMHIs) and dementia, most caregivers are parents, children or siblings of people with mental health issues or dementia. They are predominantly female and most likely to be a parent. The majority fall within the 41 to 70 age range, followed by those between 21 and 40.
Through Caregivers Alliance, I connected with Nadia and Christine, brave and loving ladies who have been looking after a sibling with a mental illness since a very young age.
Here are their stories.
“When my older brother isn’t doing well, he has suicidal thoughts. On such days, we lock the balcony doors,” says Christine, a 22-year-old undergraduate. “The locked balcony door