Children and young people’s mental health can be affected by their caring role, whether the condition of the person they care is related to physical health, mental health, an addiction or frailty in old age.
The mental health of young carers, aged 17 or under
The evidence shows that young carers have worse mental health than their peers:
- A survey of 348 young carers found 48% said being a young carer made them feel stressed and 44% said it made them feel tired.
- A survey of 61 young carers in school found that 38% had mental health problems.
- The 2011 Census showed that young carers providing 50+ hours of care a week were up to five times more likely to report their general health as ‘Not good’.
NHS England, as part of its Commitment to Carers, has been working with Carers Trust and other key stakeholders to improve Carers experience of the NHS. ‘Do We Look Like We Care?’ is a short film made with Young Carers from Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire; this film was made following a number of events with Young Carers in which they talked about the need to raise awareness of what they do and in particular some of the challenges they face. Many Young Carers described the impact that caring could have on their emotional well-being and in making this film they have shared some of the key things that they believe health and other support professionals can do to help them.
The mental health of young adult carers, aged 16-25
Young adults with caring roles report higher rates of anxiety and depression. The GP Patient Survey finds that a third more young adult carers report anxiety or depression than other young people- 39% for young adult carers, in contrast with 28% of young people without caring responsibilities.
A Carers Trust survey of young adult carers found that 45% reported mental health problems.
Improving the mental health of young carers and young adult carers
The Time to be Heard campaign calls for better support for young adult carers and their families to address caring roles that have a negative impact on their health, including mental health. We are also calling for local plans to improve children’s mental health services, sometimes called Local Transformation Plans, to include measures that improve the mental health of young carers and young adult carers.