A GROUP for relatives and carers of people with mental health problems is hoping to expand its services.

The Worcestershire Mental Health Relative and Carer Support Group, also known as Jigsaw and based in Malvern, started over 20 years ago.

Group secretary Sue Nichols said: “Since that time the group has continued to grow in strength and numbers in spite of the cuts in the NHS.

“Members aim to improve the resilience, emotional strength and wellbeing for carers of people with mental illness.

“We do this through peer support and by sharing our knowledge and understanding of mental health issues. It is important for relatives and carers to feel free to express their feelings in a safe and supportive environment without the fear of being judged.

“We hire a room in Malvern and we meet once a month in the evening, meaning that relatives and carers who work can still access valuable support and advice. The meetings are free of charge and so are the tea, coffee and biscuits.

“Most months we have guest speakers giving information on a variety of mental health related issues and about the support services available in the community for carers. There are also open meetings where we chat and discuss plans for the future.

“Longstanding members provide friendship, mutual understanding and emotional support to new members who are often feeling desperate, helpless and isolated.

“These experienced members are able to signpost relatives and carers helping them to navigate their way through the ever changing mental health system in order to access the most appropriate services to meet their needs and those they care for.

“The group is open to anyone who is supporting an adult with a mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or personality disorder.

“People currently attend from all over the county as we are the only group that provides support for relatives and carers. We are hoping that we may be able to set up additional groups in the north of the county.”

More: jigsaw.org.uk, jigsaw.worcs@gmail.com or 07503 601737.