Towards a Socioecological Framework to Support Mental Health Caregivers: Implications for Social Work Practice and Education.
In 2012, eight million Canadians provided care to family member or friends with a long-term mental or physical health condition. In the context of mental health, the largest groups of care-recipients are children and spouses due to mental illness such as mood, anxiety, personality or psychotic disorders. Although the social work practice literature emphasizes ecological interventions in mental health, little research has been done on social workers’ role in supporting family caregivers. Using a socioecological framework, the present theoretical article proposes multi-levelled social work interventions to support family caregivers in the context of mental health. Four levels of interventions will be highlighted: attachment and strengths-based approaches (micro system), community based interventions (meso system), national policies in the context of mental health caregiving in Canada (exo system), and lastly the role of ideologies in shaping attitudes towards family caregivers (macro system).