Young carers doing more than 50 hours of care a week are five times more likely to report that their health is 'not good'. There are an estimated 700,000 young carers in the UK; people who are under 18 who help look after someone in their family, or a friend, who are ill, disabled or misuse drugs or alcohol. The report highlights recommendations based on discussions with young carers, sector leaders and young carers services in the Carers Trust network. 'Invisible and in distress: prioritising the mental health of England's young carers' found that while young carers frequently report that their caring role can cause distress and impact on their mental health, there are gaps in support and there are barriers that prevent them from accessing the support that they need.
Nearly half of the young carers in the survey (48%) said that being a young carer made them feel stressed and 44% said it made them feel tired.
A different survey of 61 young carers in school found that 38% had mental health problems.
The demands of their caring role and their family’s circumstances were often one of the reasons they found it difficult to access support, from the difficulty of arranging appointments without help from a parent, to worrying about revealing that they are “not good enough” to care for their family member.
The criteria for accessing Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services can discourage young carers from getting support so that problems become even harder to tackle and cause more harm.
Caring roles amongst children and young people should be seen as a risk factor for their mental health.
NHS England, the Department of Health, mental health trusts and local authorities can implement frameworks developed by Carers Trust, such as the Young Carers in Schools programme or Triangle of Care for Young Carers to ensure that the right information and support is given to young carers. They should ensure that they meet their duties to support young carers under the Children and Families Act 2014 and Care Act 2014.