A Sudbury woman caring for a son with schizophrenia says new guidelines to support care-givers of the mentally ill may help.

Some of the guidelines recently proposed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada suggest changes to privacy laws to allow caregivers more access to confidential records.

Sudbury's Margaret Jones - whose son was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young adult - said getting access to his treatment information wasn't an issue for her. But there was practically no other support for her almost 30 years ago.

"I was taking sleeping pills because I couldn't sleep," she said. "I was thin, I wasn't eating. It was really hard for me to concentrate on anything other than keeping him out of trouble and keeping him safe."

Jones said there are more community programs now, but said the government should finance health care workers to come into the home.

Pushing for change

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Sudbury/Manitoulin chapter of the Canadian Mental Health Association said the new guidelines are a beginning.

Marion Quigley said care-givers can be more involved in the welfare of a mentally ill person by removing confidentiality.

"The legislation protects the individual's right to privacy and so this report talks about some of those changes that people are asking for," she said.

If the changes to privacy laws to allow caregivers more access to confidential records comes to fruition, Quigley said that would enable them to know how to best care for their relative.

She added the CMHA will be part of a campaign in the coming weeks to push for change.

"I'm not very optimistic, I think that legislative change takes a long time, however, I am optimistic that we can work together and set up strategies in the meantime."

The CMHA will work on providing caregivers with more support in the meantime, Quigley noted.