Caregivers are an integral, often unseen, part of our healthcare system. In 2018, 25% of the population were caregivers — 7.8 million Canadians. Caregivers are most commonly adults aged 45 to 64, many of which are caring for children and parents simultaneously. While more than half of caregivers express their caregiving experience as rewarding, it can take a toll on mental health. Caregivers may find themselves putting aside their own needs to ensure their care receiver is taken care of. This can lead to burnout, exhaustion, and a decline in health.
Caregivers can benefit from support from the support and guidance of a mental health professional. Many struggle to find the time or resources to regularly attend sessions. There are tools and strategies that allow counsellors to better support caregivers from afar, and between sessions.
Assign homework for better caregiver mental health outcomes
Patients often leave counselling feeling lighter, clearer, and generally in a better mindset. However, returning to their same environment makes it difficult to carry those positive feelings forward in day-to-day life. Assigning homework between sessions gives caregivers something to work towards outside sessions where a counsellor isn’t present. Homework keeps growth and self care top of mind, allowing caregivers to tend to their own needs.
Studies show that homework leads to better patient outcomes. A meta-analysis from 2010 looked at 14 studies to compare therapy outcomes of patients who completed homework and those who didn’t do homework at all. They found that those who completed homework in combination with therapy reported better aftereffects than about 70% of those who didn’t engage with homework at all.
Use a digital homework app to keep caregivers on track
A digital homework app like Therachat is an innovative tool that counselors can implement to keep patients on track between sessions.
Research has found that therapists who don’t consistently follow up on homework assignments are less likely to generate patient regard for the activity. It’s all too easy for patients to forget about homework or put it off after leaving a session. Particularly when working through difficult thoughts and feelings. That’s why following up with a homework app between sessions is one of the best ways to support caregivers when they don’t have the time or resources to make it into an appointment. With emotion tracking, skill-building, assessments and thought reframing activities all in the app, it’s an easily accessible tool that gives caregivers the power to take care of themselves between sessions.
Prioritizing caregiver mental health
Caregivers are an essential part of our healthcare system — but we want to ensure they’re getting the support they need as well. By implementing homework and following up with an app between sessions, counsellors are empowering caregivers to prioritize their mental health. Because you can’t pour from an empty cup.