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Two Wiltshire support groups for people who care for loved ones with mental health issues, are providing a lifeline to their members.

The monthly groups are run in Devizes and Chippenham and are a joint partnership between Carer Support Wiltshire and Wiltshire Mind.

Set up three years ago, initially as pilots, the Carers of Those With Mental Health Issues groups have been proving very successful in providing support to people who care for someone with mental health difficulties.

Each meeting is facilitated by a professional, and members can share experiences. There are also occasional speakers covering topics such as care assessments, or powers of attorney.

Now Carer Support Wiltshire and Wiltshire Mind are hoping more people will make use of the meetings.

“We know the carers who go to the groups really value them,” said Carolyn Beale, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Mind. “I spoke to one man who had been caring for his wife for two years, and when he heard about the groups he said, ‘at last there is support for me, the carer, because to date no one has cared about my mental health supporting my wife, it is such a struggle’. His own mental health had been suffering.

I also have people tell me they have found such support among the other group members – they talk, share experiences and most importantly their coping mechanisms. We would love more people to come along, as we know it is of huge benefit.”

Any carers who support a loved one with a mental health issue are welcome to join the groups. They meet monthly.

Tricia Long from Trowbridge knows first-hand what a difference peer support can make.

“Talking to someone over a cup of tea or coffee is so beneficial. You come away feeling that it’s ok not be ok all of the time, that there is support out there and other people who are dealing with the same challenges as you are.”

Tricia, who supported her husband and is an active member of the Wiltshire Carer Involvement Group continues: “Coming along to a group for the first time can be daunting, but everyone is really friendly. For many who do, it’s the first step in accessing the support and help they need.”

The Chippenham group meets at Sheldon Road Methodist Church in Audley Road, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. The next sessions are July 11, August 15 and September 12.

The Devizes group meets at The Bear Hotel in the Market Place, from 10.30am to 12.30pm. For carers concerned about leaving their loved one, the Devizes group runs alongside the Wiltshire Mind Peer Support Group which runs from 10am to 1pm every Tuesday at the Sainsbury’s Community Room. New members are always welcome.

Catharine Hurford, Chief Executive of Carer Support Wiltshire, said: “By partnering with Wiltshire Mind, which does so much to help people in the county with mental health issues, we are able to run this valuable service to carers and it is working well, but we would welcome more people coming along.”