In adult psychiatric care, informal caregivers have a huge burden to bear. In the last 50 years, people who had previously been regarded as causal agents of mental illness have become the partners of mental health (MH) professionals.
However, the keenness of the MH system to look after patients within the community and to involve family and friends in the care process has exposed these caregivers to increased responsibilities and, as a result, an increased felt workload. This puts informal caregivers at a high risk of developing health problems related to this burden. Given the shortage of skilled health professionals, supporting informal caregivers at a number of critical stages of an illness is a possible solution to treatment needs.
Yet although there are a range of existing solutions in Switzerland, no overview or assessment is currently available. In addition, in French-speaking Switzerland, no study has so far been conducted into the needs of the informal caregivers of patients with mental disorders. As a result, it remains uncertain whether these caregivers’ needs are being met.
In order to evaluate the situation, interviews, focus groups and questionnaires will be carried out with people responsible for the activities offered to caregivers, and with healthcare professionals. The data will be analysed using content analysis, discourse analysis and statistical analysis. This study will aim, ultimately, to cross-check the mutual requirements of professionals and informal caregivers in order to clarify whether these needs are being met and identify any innovative practices.