Who is a Young Carer

Who is a young carer asks the mental health professional……. Not one soul raises a hand in a room full of young people……this is not uncommon, sadly there is a stigma attached for young people in admitting they maybe a carer for a family member. Maybe the fear of being socially shunned by their  peers prevent them from wanting to step out and seek some help, maybe some don’t even recognise that they are young carers and this is normal life, some just like to keep home life separate from school life as this is the one chance where they can be a normal kid.

Regardless we as professionals whether as a mental health professional or maybe a school teacher have an obligation to ensure that young people are aware of what support there is for them in the role supporting a loved one. 

So who is a young carer?   In essences someone under the age of 18 who offers support and help to someone in their life such as a parent, grandparent, child, brother or sister, disabled relative, friend or neighbour and does not receive any payment for this could be considered a carer.

According to the last census on the 16th May 2013 it was found that there were 166,363 young carers in England. This however could be just the tip of the iceberg. Many young carers remain hidden from official sight for a host of reasons, including family loyalty, stigma, bullying, not knowing where to go for support. Some young carers are as young as five years old.

        

Some helpful tips for young carers

  • Make sure you get a break and have lots of fun, Make sure you find the time to spend on things you enjoy, like going swimming or shopping or chilling with friends.

 

  • Don’t bottle everything up, talk to someone that you like and can trust about how you are feeling.

 

  • Always remember that it is not your fault, you can’t cause the illness.

 

  • Try not to get into arguments when feeling angry, wait until things calm down, then it will be easier to get your point across.

 

  • If the person you care for says something strange or nasty to you try to remember that this may be because they’re ill. If their words or behaviour worries or hurts you, always tell a trusted adult.

 

  • Try to learn as much as you can about what is wrong with the person that is ill. Knowing more about their illness might help you to understand what they are going through.

 

  • Don’t believe everything you read in the papers or see on the T.V. When you know the real facts about mental illness you’ll realise that they put all the dramatic stuff in but they often forget about everyday reality.

 

  • When people say bad things about people with mental illness, it’s probably because they don’t understand. If you know the facts, you can help them to change.

 

  • Eat well and drink sensibly and accept who you are. Looking after your own health is really important

 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you try to do everything, you might get ill yourself. Ask a relative, doctor or social worker for help if things are difficult to cope with.

 

  • There are many great services available for young people to access support such as NSPCC (family smiles project) and ‘The Carers Trust’ however sometimes the young person might need some  steering in the right direction.

 

  • Supporting young carers is everyone’s business and there is a need for mental health services to look at how we offer support and recognise that there are young carers supporting loved ones at home in need of support themselves.

 

  • After all if we can prevent all young carers from losing their childhoods and allowing them to feel listened and valued then we can consider this a job well done.

 

There are many great services available for young people to access support such as NSPCC (family smiles project) and ‘The Carers Trust’ however sometimes the young person might need some  steering in the right direction.

Supporting young carers is everyone’s business and there is a need for mental health services to look at how we offer support and recognise that there are young carers supporting loved ones at home in need of support themselves.

After all if we can prevent all young carers from losing their childhoods and allowing them to feel listened and valued then we can consider this a job well done.

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