Policy Update: MHCC Guidelines for Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Illnesses

In June 2013, the Mental Health Commission of Canada issued the National Guidelines for a Comprehensive Service System to Support Family Caregivers of Adults with Mental Health Problems and Illnesses. The Guidelines are intended for policy makers and service providers and “seek to recognize and support family caregivers’ needs, including recommendations on services and supports caregivers find useful.”[1] The British Columbia Schizophrenia Society (BCSS) fully supports the Guidelines’ evidence-based, informed and comprehensive approach to helping families cope, partnering with professionals, and regaining family stability. This represents a significant shift in the delivery of mental health services in Canada, by recognizing and legitimizing the ongoing contributions and needs of family caregivers in the care of their loved ones.

Since the release of the Guidelines, the BCSS Public Policy Committee has been busy promoting the Guidelines among health professionals and agencies throughout BC. The Committee contacted each of the health authorities, as well as the Minister of Health, to ensure they were informed of the Guidelines and their importance. Letters were also sent to 7 professional colleges as well as 33 schools of various health disciplines throughout BC.

The response has been encouraging. The health authorities have assured the Committee that they are aware of the importance of involving families in the care of mentally ill patients and have outlined the various steps they are taking to implement this policy. The response from various medical, nursing, health, and social work schools has been especially positive. They will be circulating the Guidelines to faculty and students, and, in several cases, incorporating the Guidelines into their course material. The Committee will continue its work to ensure the Guidelines are fully acknowledged by all mental health partners.

For further information about the Public Policy Committee’s work regarding family involvement, please email  development@nullbcss.org.


[1] http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/node/8601/