Young carers’ mental health must be better supported

Young carers’ mental health must be better supported in schools and in health and social care, according to delegates at a roundtable discussion about the mental health of young carers, hosted by Carers Trust this week.

The roundtable was attended by 22 representatives from a wide range of statutory and voluntary sector organisations with an interest in the mental health of young carers.

Delegates acknowledged the fact the schools play a vital role in identifying and supporting young carers but they are often under-resourced and not able to provide this support.

Delegates also discussed the fact that there is no overall strategy that guarantees that young carers get the support that they need. They acknowledged that this needed to change.

Topics discussed during the event included:

> How organisations and sectors can work together to prevent excessive and inappropriate caring roles for young carers;
> How access to mental health services can be improved for young carers.

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’ and a Carers Trust survey of 348 young carers found that 48% said being a young carer made them feel stressed. Young adults with caring roles report higher rates of anxiety and depression. The GP Patient Survey found that a third more young adult carers reported anxiety or depression than other young people.

Through its network of carers services Carers Trust supports thousands of young and young adult carers. It also hosts two websites – Babble and Matter which provide online services for young and young adult carers.

Gail Scott-Spicer, Chief Executive of Carers Trust comments: “We know that young carers’ mental health can be impacted by their caring roles. The Care Act 2014 and the Children and Families Act 2014 created new rights for young carers to be identified, have their needs assessed and be supported. Health Services and Local Authorities must do more to ensure that young carers get the right support to ensure that their mental health is not being adversely affected. Carers Trust’s network of quality assured carers services are ready and waiting to work with local authorities and the NHS to support young carers.”

Chair of the discussion, Professor Paul Burstow, Chair of Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, and former Minister of State for Care Services commented: “Young carers can have greater needs for mental health support than their peers, and this discussion today gives us a clear idea of how to make sure that mental health services respond to that need. We must work together to ensure that young carers and their mental health needs are supported.”