More than a third of young carers struggle with their mental health

More than a third of young carers are experiencing widespread problems with their mental wellbeing, survey shows.

photo credit: MTSOfan via photopin cc

New research reveals that over one third of young people aged 11-18 in Great Britain who give up time to care for someone they live with are experiencing widespread problems with their mental wellbeing.

The YouGov survey, published today (31st January), was commissioned by the UK charity, Carers Trust, to mark Young Carers Awareness Day. Of the young carers responding to the survey, 37% said they felt ‘stressed’ while 32% said they felt ‘worried’ because of caring for someone. And 50% of those who reported stress said they ‘often’ felt that way.

The study also found that almost a quarter (23%) of young carers felt their caring role had, on at least one occasion, stopped them making friends, and less than half (44%) felt they got enough help with their emotions and feelings. The research also suggests that too many young carers are not getting the right support to address their negative feelings.

22% of young carers responding to the survey, who had negative feelings about caring, said they did not speak to anyone about their feelings. And just 6% said they would speak to a professional working in mental health services.

In September 2018 Nottingham University and BBC News released figures suggesting there were 800,000 young carers aged 11-16 in England. When considered alongside YouGov data, Carers Trust would estimate just under a quarter of a million young carers in this age group are feeling stressed and approximately 240,000 are feeling ‘worried’ because of their caring role.

Young carers have made it clear to Carers Trust there needs to be far greater public awareness of the difficult and stressful responsibilities they take on. They maintain that if their responsibilities as carers are ignored or go unnoticed, their mental wellbeing will suffer with too much expected of them without appropriate support.

This is why young carers chose #CareForMeToo as the campaign name for Young Carers Awareness Day 2019.

Carers Trust is calling for:

  • Health and social care professionals to receive mandatory training pre-registration so they are more aware of young carers’ needs and better able to identify them.
  • Statutory agencies from health, social care and education sectors to receive funding so they can identify and support young carers, and undertake their legal duties as required by the Children and Families Act 2014 (4).
  • Schools in England to adopt the Step-by-Step Guide to identification and support for young carers in Schools.

Giles Meyer, Carers Trust CEO, said: “Right across Britain today hundreds of thousands of young people are having to care for family members with complex needs.

“These problems, which many adults would struggle to deal with, range from disability and terminal illness to mental health problems, alcoholism and substance misuse.

“The YouGov survey we commissioned points to the toll these challenging responsibilities are placing on the mental wellbeing of young carers, many of whom juggle complex challenges and pressures every day.

“It’s hardly surprising therefore that so many of the young carers we speak to are crying out for help and support to ease the stress and worry they experience as a result of caring for someone. They know that, left unnoticed or ignored, these negative feelings can quickly escalate into poor mental health.

“That’s why this Young Carers Awareness Day we are calling for professionals to receive mandatory training on how to identify young carers at a much earlier stage.

“This will help ensure young carers and their problems do not go unnoticed, and instead get appropriate support for their mental health, preventing the build-up of long term problems with their mental health.”

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