It’s Young Carers Awareness Day today, a day to pause and recognise these incredible young people and the enormous impact they have on the people around them.
The focus this year is on raising awareness of mental health amongst young carers and those who support them.
Yesterday I met a group of young carers who are working hard to make people aware of the struggles that they regularly deal with.
These brave young people – who are mostly under 18 and still in education – have the immensely challenging task of looking after a friend or family member who needs some form of care. This might be down to illness, disability, mental health issues, or misuse of drugs or alcohol.
Providing this care is a huge responsibility for anyone to take on, particularly for someone so young, and it can be detrimental to their education and mental health. National studies have found that around a quarter of young carers end up missing school and homework deadlines, with 68 per cent found to have been victims of school bullying. As a result, more than 40 per cent of young carers suffer some kind of mental health impact.
It was a humbling experience to meet the group of Bristol young carers who came to look around City Hall with me yesterday evening. They showed me some of the fantastic posters they have designed about mental health awareness, many of which were based on their own experiences with motivating tips for how to manage the struggles they face. I was saddened to learn that only an estimated 50 per cent of young carers nationwide have a person in their school that recognises they are a carer, and helps them.
It is therefore vital that we raise the profile of young carers and the issues they face, so they can get the support that they need. Despite all the challenges they deal with on a daily basis, the carers I met were really positive and were passionate about spreading the message that it is okay to talk about how you feel.
To support this call for awareness the Carers Support Centre will be sending these inspirational posters out to local schools, as part of our Young Carers in Schools programme, and I encourage all to consider what they can do to support this incredible group of young people.
If you want to find out more about the support young carers can get, please contact Carers Support Centre.