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What is the issue?

Caregivers are vital partners in the recovery journeys of loved ones who are living with mental health problems and illnesses. To ensure them a good quality of life, caregivers provide emotional, social, and material support, which includes navigating and advocating for services. Yet, still too often, the caregiver’s role, voice, and well-being are overlooked.

This lack of interest has significant consequences, especially for the caregivers themselves: nearly 50 per cent see their role as having a negative affect on their own mental health.

Engaging caregivers and supporting their needs would bring many direct and indirect benefits:

  • improved health for clients and their families
  • less reliance on health services
  • more meaningful partnerships in our systems of care
  • better system responsiveness to family and community needs
  • greater caregiver confidence and competence

What are we doing?

Since 2008, we have worked with caregiver supporters on providing advocates, policy makers, and providers with resources and tools to better engage caregivers and meet their needs:

Promising Practices Guide: Engaging Caregivers in Mental Health and Addiction Services in Canada

  • Created to inspire mental health and addiction service organizations and provide them with good practices in engaging caregivers
  • Includes examples of good family engagement in care, programs, and policies

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

A roadmap with 41 recommendations to guide system planners, policy makers, and service providers in planning and implementing mental health care services that take caregivers’ needs and perspectives into account.

2010 spring roundtable meeting reports

Related Initiatives
Informing the Future

Mental Health Indicators for Canada


The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) created a number of resources to support caregivers of people living with a mental health problem or illness. They are designed to support the mental health and wellness of the caregiver as well as improve the care of their loved one. Click on the links below for more information.

The following principles and values are intended to guide the development of policies, programs, and services that promote and support the mental health of older adults, as well as programs…

While COVID-19 has amplified conversations about mental well-being, some older adults may be unwilling or unable to discuss how the pandemic has affected them psychologically. This difficulty poses a unique…

While caring for a family member who is living with a mental health problem or illness can be rewarding, it can also be tiring, demanding work. As the COVID-19 pandemic…

More than 550,000 people in Canada are caregivers to people living with mental health problems or illnesses. The Caregiver Mobilization Toolkit is designed to help promote the National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service…

In 2012, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released Changing Directions, Changing Lives: The Mental Health Strategy for Canada. In order to build Canada’s capacity to promote mental health…

In order to paint a more complete picture of the mental health landscape in Canada, the MHCC presents 55 indicators reflecting mental health for children and youth, adults, and seniors….

Family caregivers of adults with mental illnesses fulfill a distinct and important role by providing support and advocating for their relatives and contributing to their recovery. However, the unpredictable nature…

Why do we need these Guidelines?Family caregivers of adults with mental illnesses play a crucial role by providing support and advocating for their relatives and contributing to their recovery. The…