Accessible summary: Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a complex and challenging mental health condition for the person and family carers who support them. This paper reports on the results of a survey of 121 family carers of people diagnosed with BPD about their experiences of being carers, their attempts to seek help for the person diagnosed with BPD and their own carer needs. It provides the first detailed account across these domains. Family carers of people diagnosed with BPD experience significant exclusion and discrimination when attempting to interact with generalist health and mental health services. Further education for all health professionals is indicated, particularly general practitioners who likely come into contact with BPD carers. All health professionals need to improve their skills and attitudes in working with people diagnosed with BPD, and also their skills and attitudes in working with BPD carers. Carers of people diagnosed with BPD may need specialist carer support that addresses their distinct information, education and support needs. There is limited understanding of the experience of family carers of people diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD). This study aimed to explore their experiences of being carers, their attempts to seek help for the person diagnosed with BPD and their own carer needs. An invitation to participate in an online survey was distributed to carers across multiple consumer and carer organizations and mental health services, by the Private Mental Health Consumer Carer Network (Australia) in 2011. Responses from 121 carers showed that they experience significant challenges and discrimination when attempting to engage with and seek support from health services. Comparison with consumers' experiences (reported elsewhere) showed that these carers have a clear understanding of the discrimination faced by people with this diagnosis, largely because they also experience exclusion and discrimination. Community carer support services were perceived as inadequate. General practitioners were an important source of support; however, they and other service providers need more education and training to support attitudinal change to address discrimination, recognize carers' needs and provide more effective support. This study provides the first detailed account of BPD carers' experiences across a broad range of support needs and interactions with community support and health services.
- Borderline personality disorder
- Family carers
- General practice
- Mental health services
- Mental illness
- Service user/consumer perspective