OBJECTIVE: To provide descriptive information about a short-term educational programme for rural carers of people with a mental illness, living in the Loddon Campaspe Southern Mallee region.
METHOD: The Carers Education Exchange Programme is a flexible, needs-based model that can be modified to cater for individual groups. It consists of a number of sessions on topics relevant to caring for someone with a mental illness, held over a period of several weeks. The programme is offered at locations throughout the region, making it accessible to carers in isolated, rural areas.
RESULTS: Feedback indicates that the benefits of participating in the programme include the reduction of isolation and stigma, increased understanding of mental illness, development of skills relevant to the caring role and the formation of supportive networks, both professional and personal.
CONCLUSIONS: Educational group programmes for carers are an effective way of providing both education and support. This programme can assist in reducing some of the distress and difficulties inherent in caring for someone with a mental illness. Carer well-being is enhanced by the promotion of self-care and a positive outlook.