If you are in distress, you can call or text 988 at any time. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.

Home › Resources › National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses

National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses

Providing care and support to someone with a mental illness can be a daunting task. The often unpredictable and lengthy course of mental illness is compounded by stigma and by historical barriers to family involvement in the mental health system. This can create a significant burden that can compromise the health of the caregivers themselves.

People with mental illness are starting to receive the attention and respect they deserve. There is a growing recognition that recovery is possible, and that with access to the right treatments and supports, people with mental illness and their communities can often flourish. This same level of attention and respect, however, is not consistently provided to their families! Support for families to help fulfill their caregiving responsibilities and sustain the integrity of their own well-being is hardly integrated into the health care system. With supports spotty and inconsistent at best (and often non-existent), families are left to fend for themselves as they try to help their loved ones recover from mental illness and at the same time keep themselves afloat.

These Guidelines attempt to correct this. They offer a template for the many types of supports and services that caregivers need at different stages of their loved one’s illness, and at different stages of their own lives. They are primarily aimed at service providers and policy makers, who are often in the best position to change the reality of families for the better.

These Guidelines were conceived and advocated for by the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s former Family Caregivers Advisory Committee. The Commission then provided the resources so that this initiative could be transformed into concrete guidelines. It is our belief that these Guidelines provide the tools that could lead to improved services for family caregivers.

Feedback Form

Hey, thanks for checking out this resource. After you’ve seen it, we’d love to learn a bit more about your interests and how you found us. Was the information what you looking for? Was it helpful? We’ll use any feedback you provide to further improve what we do.

Are you willing to be contacted within 3 to 6 months for a short follow-up survey?
In case of “Yes” – please provide an email address
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.



Approximately 4,500 deaths by suicide occur in Canada every year. Data exist to explain differences between sexes and age groups regarding suicide patterns; however, our understanding of the specific experiences...