The Profile Of The Informal Caregiver In Mental Health

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The profile of the informal caregiver in Mental Health


An informal caregiver is defined as that individual with an affective bond, whether familiar or not, in charge of unpaid care for people with some type of dependence, with a commitment of certain permanence or duration. According to Law 39/2006, of December 14, promoting personal autonomy and attention to people in dependency.


According to Law 39/2006, of December 14, promoting personal autonomy and attention to people in dependency, define the term dependence as a permanent state in which people who, for reasons derived from age are found , of disease or disability, and linked to the lack or loss of physical, mental, intellectual or sensory autonomy, require the attention of another or other important people or aids to carry out basic activities of daily life or, in the case of people with intellectual disabilities or mental illness, of other support for their personal autonomy.

II- family link.

According to the INE, in terms of family bond, in the vast majority of cases, caregivers of dependent people are usually children, followed by the spouse and finally of parents. The percentage shown by this data is 82%.

Brodaty and Donkin and García, Jiménez and Vilaplana, among other authors, agree to identify the family as a fundamental provider of the care received by dependent people. Other support networks would be co -workers, friends, neighbors and other organizations such as volunteer, self-help groups or affected and family associations. These social networks can influence the health of caregivers inducing to develop healthy behaviors, providing self – esteem, emotional support, material help and sense of belonging.


According to the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE) defines sex as a set of beings belonging to the same sex: male or female.

It is true that, historically the predominant sex in this type of care is feminine due to the cultural factors assigned to women, such as the role of caring, since from an early age it was trained for family care and home tasks. However, the incorporation of women into working life has made a greater number of male caregivers.

IV- Age.

Regarding the age of informal caregivers, most of the studies reviewed, expose an age range of 45 to 65 years. Age is directly related to family relationship, since if it is the spouse who offers care, age will be greater than if it is the daughter or daughter -in -law.

V- marital status.

There is not much information available regarding the marital status of caregivers. Estimates made from the data of the Panel of Households of the European Union (INE, 2009) point out that among the European population to adult care predominates married people (54.7%), followed by single women (35.5% ), widows (7.7%) and divorced or separate (2.1%)

A study by Cuellar and Sánchez on a sample of 105 caregivers not professionals showed that 74.3% were married, 20.3% were single and 5.4% were divorced.

Vi- Economic level.

It is difficult to establish a pattern regarding the economic situation of informal caregivers of dependent people. The trend indicates low economic levels of caregivers and average income of the home. In this regard, the exploitation of the results of the Household Panel of the European Union (INE, 2011b) shows that 55% of European households that are dedicated to daily adult care receive monthly income above 1.587 euros, and among them 57.4% have remuneration greater than 2.380 euros per month.

In other investigations it is mentioned that the group of caregivers is mostly formed by women with low socioeconomic levels.

Towards this last address, the published data for Andalusia are also directed in that more than 50% of the caregivers of people with mental problems (54%) and almost 70% of people who are in the care of people with disabilities or disease Chronicle, have income not exceeding 901.52 euros per month. It has been commented that caregivers with greater purchasing power would have a greater economic capacity to hire private services than caregivers with low economic level, this last group being unable to deal with this expense and consequently assume all the responsibility of the care of the person’s care dependent.

VII- Labor situation of caregivers

The figures in Spain indicate that 75%of the total caregivers of people with mental health problems have no work activity: they are housewives (50%), retired (15%) and stops (9, 7%). Only 18.5% of the sample develops a paid work, which in general compatibles with care. In this last group, full -time workers (63.5%) predominate, followed by those who perform a part -time (20%) and loose hours (14.3%). In the Valencian Community, the caregivers of dependent people are in most inactive cases, with some studies, 43% deal with their home and 22% are retired compared to 22% of workers. In the case of care for dependent elderly, the caregiver’s employment situation is emerging differently depending on whether the caregiver is the couple or any of their children of the dependent person.

In a recent work done in Andalusia, it was found that the proportion of women caregivers did not reach 18%, while in the case of caregivers (8.6% of the total) was 34.6%.

Mental illness. Gender perspective. Relationship between the figure of the caregiver and the sex-gender.

In 1946, the World Health Organization (WHO), defines the term of mental illness as a state of well -being in which the individual is aware of their own abilities, can face the normal tensions of life, can work on productive and fruitful form and is able to make a contribution to your community.

While, it is true that the reality of dependence is not a phenomenon that originated in the 21st century, since there have always been people who for reasons of illness or age, require the support of others to meet the basic needs of life everyday. Over the years different demographic transformations appear that society is experiencing. These transformations would be the increase in life expectancy, together with sociocultural changes. On the other hand, the alteration of the role of women that leads to increase their presence in the education system and in the labor market has originated a care crisis.

The care crisis is a first -order socioeconomic problem that affects the whole population and the structure of the social organization system, [which originates] by the bankruptcy of a previous model of distribution of those, based on which The responsibility of the same is attached to the space of the private-dometic call (of the non-monetized economy), socially assigned to women.

And if the care has always been the land par excellence for the recreation of discriminations by gender reason, it acquires greater prominence in the field of dependency. Indeed, it acts as a surplus value of gender inequalities, in which women operate as a adjustment variable between market demands and the needs of home people, guaranteeing great elasticity to the system.

On the other hand, gender inequality in informal care, where it is the woman who exercises this invisible and demanding activity within the health care system. The so -called health gender approach is displayed in the mid -twentieth century. The term gender highlights cultural, social behaviors and allocation of roles that differentiate the way in which society builds being man or being a woman, not as different but as unequal. Informal health care thus poses two inequalities related to the responsibility for care: differential charges of care between men and women. It also includes some values ​​such as the time dedicated to care, intensity, and opportunity, noting that women with a low level of income and high age dedicate more hours to informal care unpaid, contributing to the maintenance of this well -being system.

Informal caregivers formation

Several studies, in addition to showing the impact of care activity, have allowed the construction of a profile of the individual dedicated to this task, a result that has shown consensus among the researchers of various latitudes. It has been observed that the responsibility of caring for patients essentially fall on family, and in particular about women, who usually have a medium-low level of educational training and combine family care for a high number of hours a day , with household responsibilities and marital demands.

The academic training of the 127 participants showed low levels, with a significant percentage of caregivers without literacy ability (n = 9; 15%), while 42.6% (n = 54) began studies but never finished them. The elementary training culmination (primary school) was recorded at 11.8% (n = 15) and high school or secondary education in 18.1% (n = 23); For its part, only 12.5% ​​(n = 16) of those evaluated advanced studies at a technical or professional level.


The level of studies of caregivers is generally very low and does not exceed a raised percentage of primary studies. In our environment, approximately 60-66% of the group of caregivers do not have studies or has primary studies compared to 6-7% that have university studies (Ombudsman, SEGG and multidisciplinary association of Gerontology, 2000; Imserso, 2004 ). More than 80% of the caregivers of dependent people in Andalusia do not have an educational level higher than primary education. Along the same lines, from data published in the Andalusia Health Survey 2001-12 we have found that 91% of people dedicated to the care of disabled and chronic patients have a very low level of instruction-without studies (59% ) or primary studies (32%) – and that 85% of those who provide assistance to people with mental health problems are in the same situation (57% have no studies and 28% only have primary studies).

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