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Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Group for Mental Illness Caretakers

       Clinically, it can be often observed that family members of mental illness patients are trying too hard to get along with the patients, bordering on being overly sensitive, and worrying that the occasional loss of patience or mistake will adversely affect the relationship with the patients. Thus, family members become overly alert during interactions and may spend much attention noticing the minute changes in the status of the subject – such as facial emotion. This will strain the family member’s mental status in the long term, as they are constantly under duress, and may become more fearful and confused, which could adversely affect their physiological health as well. Symptoms like insomnia, fatigue, pain, hypertension or autonomous nerve disorders may also manifest under prolonged stress.

       To counter the stress of taking care of mental patients, programs offered by spiritual groups such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), dance treatment, relaxation techniques and psychodramas can help these caretakers relieve their stress. Under the guidance of professional instructors, caretakers learn to re-connect with their feelings, paying attention to the changes in the body’s sensations, such as changes in breathing patterns, muscle contraction, tone and speed of speech. Taking the MBSR as an example, caretakers can learn to modulate their physiological status by being mindful of their breathing patterns, which dynamically regulates their intrinsic acceleration and deceleration systems.

      The Songde Branch of Taipei City Hospital is dedicated to not only the care of mental patients, but their caretakers and family members as well. In 2019, under the support of the Department of Health of Taipei City Government, the Songde Branch will organize three spiritual group sessions for the physical and psychological well-being of mental patient caretakers. The sessions include psychodrama, MBSR and gardening therapy to help caretakers regain their inner strengths and restore their confidence. To participate in these activities, family members or caretakers of mental illness patients are welcome to contact the psychologist (Ms. Ku) on (02)2726-3141 ext. 1139, or go to the following website and register online: https://forms.gle/G2RQhTXdtnv5yEuE7.