Overworked male doctor or male nurse sitting in front of the building having headache.

Caregivers cited information and resources to support their emotional health as a top priority in the Caregiving in America survey released Tuesday. Nearly two-thirds of the 170 caregivers  of people living with chronic conditions polled by social health firm Health Union said improving their emotional and mental health was a top priority, while nearly half also wanted more support for the emotional health of their patients.

“We’ve seen across all of Health Union’s online health communities the degree to which many care partners provide physical and emotional care, often at the expense of their own health and well-being,” Amrita Bhowmick, Health Union’s chief community officer, said in a statement. “Naturally, it is important to provide relevant and beneficial resources that care partners can use to bolster their emotional and mental health, in addition to vital resources for better managing patient care.” 

Health Union interviewed the caregivers between December 2020 and November 2021, a time when the COVID-19 pandemic was putting a strain on the healthcare system and providers. More than half of respondents said caring for their patients had a significant negative impact on stress and anxiety levels. Only 1 in 5 polled considered their health to be either very good or excellent. 

The caregivers surveyed said they were spending on average 30.5 hours a week providing care; however 22% said they were working with patients for longer than 40 hours a week. More than a third of respondents said they felt overwhelmed by their responsibilities and some said they often felt burned out by their roles as caregivers. 

The caregivers overwhelmingly said providing emotional support to their patients was a major stressor. A lack of training may have added to that stress. Only 14% said they felt well trained before taking on the role of caregiving.

Most caregivers said they turned to their employers for information about managing their patients’ conditions, but they sought out additional resources as well. Three-quarters said they turned to condition-specific websites for information. One in five respondents reported seeking help from Facebook and online support groups for caregivers.