A survey conducted by Carers Trust has found that young carers and young adult carers have been significantly impacted by the ongoing pandemic, with mental health cited as the leading concern.
In the first of its kind, the Carers Trust survey provides a base of evidence for how worries relating to coronavirus and increased isolation caused by the lockdown has affected the mental health and wellbeing of the UK’s young people with caring responsibilities.
“This is the first snapshot of how coronavirus is affecting hundreds of thousands of young people with caring responsibilities across the UK.
“And the results are truly shocking. They cannot, and must not, be ignored,” explains Carers Trust CEO and former young carer, Gareth Howells.
“Even before the pandemic struck, the failure of successive UK governments to properly fund social care meant that an intolerable strain was being placed on young people who had to step in to provide the care that a cash-starved social care system increasingly could not,” continues Gareth.
“That over-dependence on young carers and young adult carers has created a ticking timebomb with their mental health and wellbeing being placed at serious risk.”
Speaking to young carers (those aged 12 to 17) and young adult cares (ages 18 to 25), the survey revealed a stark snapshot at the feelings and concerns young people have from COVID-19.
Findings show that 40 per cent of young carers and 59 per cent of young adult carers say their mental health is worse. Similarly, 67 per cent of young carers and 78 per cent of young adult carers are more worried about the future since coronavirus.
“When I was in school that was the time for me. Now every day is the same,” said a 12-year-old female carer in England. “I haven’t been able to get out and talk to all my friends after school. I haven’t been able to go over to family’s houses to stop for a break.”
Young people are also worried about their education, with 56 per cent of young carers revealing their education is suffering since COVID-19.
A 21-year-old male carer in England added: “I’m at home 24/7 other than to walk the dog which is the only time I get away from my caring role.
“I used to be able to do breaks on the weekend and visit friends or places and do exciting, fun things but I cannot do that now.
“My mental health is suffering. Some days it doesn’t seem worth getting up as each day is the same.”
Most shockingly of all, 7.74 per cent of young carers and 14.94 per cent of young adult carers who responded to the survey, said that they are now spending over 90 hours a week caring for a family member or friend.
When asked what difference coronavirus had, 56 per cent of young carers said their education was suffering and 40 per cent said their mental health had worsened.
Asked the same question, 59 per cent of young adult carers said their mental health had deteriorated and 42 per cent said they had been unable to take a break from caring.
Gareth adds: “Coronavirus, and our findings of its impact, have brought into sharper focus still the unacceptable pressures young carers are under and the effect this is having on their wellbeing and life chances.
“There are estimated to be around 1 million young carers alone across the UK and these findings are the wake-up call that can no longer be ignored.
“We’re long past the time when sympathy and kind words for young carers is enough.
“Hundreds of thousands of young carers across the UK need real support and we are calling on the government to urgently invest in support services for young carers to ensure they get the support they need.”