Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 279–295 | Cite as

Hours of Care and Caring Tasks Performed by Australian Carers of Adults with Mental Illness: Results from an Online Survey

  • Emily HielscherEmail author
  • Sandra Diminic
  • Jan Kealton
  • Meredith Harris
  • Yong Yi Lee
  • Harvey Whiteford
Original Paper


The aim of this study was to provide a detailed profile of the hours of care Australian mental health carers provide for different types of caring tasks. The UQ Carer Survey 2016 was administered online to 105 adults caring for someone aged 16 years or older whose main condition is mental illness. Mental health carers reported providing on average 37.2 h of care per week to their main care recipient. Carers spent most of their active caring time providing emotional support, and the least of their time assisting with activities of daily living. Carers highlighted that this care time fluctuates with the undulating nature of mental illness, and many noted additional hours devoted to being ‘on call’ in case of emergency. Carers provide large amounts of support on a long-term and often unpredictable basis. Government services need to match the undulating nature of the illness by providing more flexible support options for mental health carers.


Carers Caregivers Mental health Mental illness Australia 



The authors thank members of the reference group established by Mind Australia who provided advice and guidance on this work: Frances Sanders, Margaret Grigg, Philip Norman and Gerry Naughtin. The authors acknowledge the contribution of the mental health carers who participated in the UQ Carer Survey 2016 and the carer organisations who facilitated the recruitment of participants.


This research was funded by Mind Australia under the Mind Carer Development Fund as part of a broader project to estimate the replacement cost of mental health carers.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of The University of Queensland Behavioural & Social Sciences Ethical Review Committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Policy and Epidemiology Group, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research (QCMHR)The Park Centre for Mental HealthBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Public Health, Faculty of MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Centre for Clinical Research, Faculty of MedicineThe University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Carer consultantGold CoastAustralia
  5. 5.Institute of Health Metrics and EvaluationUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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