Australian studies have indicated that NESB mentally ill live with and are cared for by their families to a much greater degree than the ESB host community. The possibilities for interaction between migration stressors
and the stressors associated with caring for a mentally ill person, have health and quality of life implications for NESB carers and mentally ill. So far the experiences of NESB carers have received little research.
This study is a qualitative evaluation of the experiences of four Portuguese families caring for a person with a chronic psychotic illness. In depth interviews of both carers and Health workers working with Portuguese carers and clients were used to reveal aspects of carer experience such as Migration, Leisure, and Knowledge of Mental illness. The study concluded that the Portuguese carers and mentally ill have been successful migrants who have achieved what they came here to do. The Portuguese women were found to be the major providers of care to the mentally ill and their experiences appear to parallel those of other NESB and ESB carers of the mentally ill or other chronically ill or disabled persons. For two carers however the personal cost of caring was very high. The negativity of their experience can be directly attributed to the cultural factors of male alcoholism and
domestic violence which appear to be endemic in Portuguese communities. The client directed orientation of mental health servicing whereby the expertise and/or the difficulties of carers and their children are not assessed or incorporated in care planning was also found to contribute directly to carer burden.