Support & Information for Carers

The aim of this section of the website to highlight support and information that is available to those supporting someone with mental health difficulties. It was written by Edinburgh Carers Council.

It is important to know that as well as dedicated carers services, some services in Edinburgh can be used by both carers and those they support. For example, the Lothian Bipolar Self Help Group and Edinburgh Crisis Centre, among others. See below for more sources of support.

Table of Contents

What is a Carer?
Support for Carers
Carers Assessments
Support Groups & Drop-ins
Finances & Money
The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003
Respite/Short Breaks for Carers
Contact with Police and the Criminal Justice System
Further Useful Links & Information

What is a Carer?

A carer may be a family member, partner or friend who supports or cares for a person with mental health difficulties. Carers may or may not live with the person they support, and they may or may not carry out physical tasks. The person they support may be in hospital on a short or long term basis.

Support for Carers

Providing any level of care to somebody else can have an impact on your own life; not being able to spend as much time with other family members or friends, not socializing as much because you are tired and stressed, and impacting on your own working life, to ensure the person you are supporting is safe and well.

There are a number of different organizations that can provide a range of support to carers, these can include; information, respite or short breaks, training and the opportunity to learn new skills to help you in your caring role, support groups, activities with other carers, and advocacy.

Support can be accessed directly by contacting the organizations listed on this page directly or by completing a carers’ assessment (see below). Further information on support specifically for mental health carers in Edinburgh can be found in the Edinburgh Carers Council booklets available here.

Carers Assessments

If a person provides ‘substantial and regular’ care, they have a right to be informed of a carer’s needs assessment by any health and social work assessment, and they have a duty to complete a Carer’s Needs Assessment with you. The aim of this assessment is to identify the level of care they are providing. It will help to ensure that they are getting all the support and resources that you are entitled to, in order to support them to continue caring and also to maintain their own health and well-being.

You can download a self assessment form here and post it to Social Care Direct at the address below. It will be forwarded to the local area social work team who will then contact the carer to discuss their situation further.

Social Care Direct
Chesser House
500 Gorgie Road
EH11 3YJ.

Support Groups & Drop-ins

These can offer carers a place to meet other carers who support someone with mental ill health in a similar situation and to share their experiences as well as sharing information. Often groups will invite a speaker along to talk on a particular topic of interest.

  • Care for Carers offer support groups, respite breaks, as well as other services.
  • Edinburgh Young Carers support young people aged 5-20 who help care for or look after someone else.
  • Eric Liddell centre offers befriending for carers.
  • Support in Mind offers various support groups for carers.
  • VOCAL offer various services, including groups and coffee mornings for carers.


Finances & Money

Carers Benefits

A guide to carers rights and benefits, including carers allowance can be downloaded here. The Carers Welfare Rights Helpline can be contacted: 0800 161 3839.

Quick guide to Options for Financial Management

This can be downloaded here.

Wills and Trusts

Financial Future: Wills and Trusts – a leaflet from Support in Mind can be downloaded here.


This is an order under the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000 from the sheriff court stating who the Sheriff has appointed to look after the affairs of someone who is not able to look after those affairs for himself or herself.The order could allow whoever has been appointed by the Sheriff, called Guardians, to manage on an ongoing basis the financial or welfare affairs or both, of someone who is unable to deal with those matters. For more information see here.

Power of Attorney

Power of Attorney is a written document giving someone else authority to take actions or make decisions on your behalf. It lets you say who you want to look after your affairs and what you want your attorney to be able to do for you if you are incapable of doing so for yourself. For more information see here.


Application to the Department of Work and Pensions which allows someone else to manage your state benefits on your behalf if you are unable to. For more information see here.

The Mental Health (Care and Treatment) (Scotland) Act 2003

Some people may need to receive care and treatment and be unable to consent to this.

Advance Statements

An Advance Statement is a written statement, drawn up and signed when a person is well, which sets out how s/he would prefer to be treated (or not treated) if s/he were to become ill in the future. It must be witnessed and dated. The Mental Health Tribunal and any medical practitioner treating the person must have regard to an advance statement. If the wishes set out in an advance statement have not been followed the medical practitioner must send to the Mental Welfare Commission (and others) a written record giving the reasons. You can download a booklet on Advance Statements here.

Named person

Those who use mental health services are able to choose a named person to support them and to protect their interests if they have to be given care and treatment under the Act. A named person has a number of rights under the Act, for more information on Named Persons see here. For more information about the Mental Health Act see here.

Respite/short breaks for Carers

‘Stepping Out’

‘Stepping out’ are short residential breaks for carers offered by Care4Carers.

The Beacon Club

The Beacon Club is one of the core services run by the The Broomhouse Centreand provides support for people with dementia. Clients are offered refreshments and a blend of activities according to their preferences, abilities and needs. Transport is provided with a trained escort, to and from the club.

Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project

MECOPP – Minority Ethnic Carers of People Project provides a variety of services to Black and Minority Ethnic carers including respite.


Edinburgh Carers Council provides a free, confidential and independent professional advocacy service for those who support someone with mental health difficulties or using mental health services. Including those who have dementia and learning disabilities. To find out more about advocacy and the carers’ advocacy service see here.

Training opportunities

Contact with Police and the Criminal Justice System

Most mental health carers do not need to contact the Police. However, you may contact the Police if the person you care for:

  • is at risk of causing harm to themselves
  • is at risk of harming you or others
  • has gone missing and you are concerned about their safety.

To find out more

To find out more see here.

Forensic Mental Health Services (FMHS) specialise in the assessment and treatment of people with mental disorders involved with legal or court proceedings, or who have offended. They are not part of the prison service. A person’s mental disorder may be assessed as being a factor contributing to their offending behaviour. Therefore the ethos of services is one of care and treatment which manages any identified risk, rather than punishment and containment.

Not everyone treated within forensic mental health services will have committed an offence but they may need specialist care and treatment that is not available in other mental health facilities. For more information about mental health and the criminal justice system and information about Edinburgh’s medium secure care unit, The Orchard Clinic, The Royal Edinburgh Hospital see here.

Further information on secure care in Scotland can be found on the Forensic Network’s website here.

Further Useful Information

Key Rights of Mental Health Carers (Scotland)

A brief summary of the relevant rights to adult mental health carers in Scotland produced by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers. This can be downloaded here.


The area of confidentiality is an important one for carers and the people they are supporting. Issues can be complex and carers can often feel excluded and left to try to provide the best support they can without much information at all. The leaflets below all investigate this issue:

‘Partners in Care’ Leaflets

A range of useful leaflets specifically for carers which provides easy to read practical information on mental health conditions, questions to ask mental health professionals. These can be downloaded here.

Triangle of Care Report

A report which emphasises the need for better involvement of carers and families in the care planning and treatment of people with mental ill health. This can be seen here.

Scotland’s Carers Strategy: “Caring Together”

This outlines the support for carers for the next five years.

  • Download Scotland’s new carers strategy here.
  • Download Summary leaflet which outlines main action points from strategyhere.

Sibling Support

Rethink has a useful website for siblings of those with a mental health issue. You can access this online here.

NHS Lothian Carers Information Strategy 2008–2011

This outlines how carers are to be kept well informed and supported in their caring role. You can download a copy here.