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UK's young adult carers: Bullied and suffering poor mental and physical health

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UK's young adult carers: Bullied and suffering poor mental and physical health

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Care and Support and also in Health

UK's young adult carers: Bullied and suffering poor mental and physical health UK's young adult carers: Bullied and suffering poor mental and physical health

Image: Carer via Shutterstock

Over a quarter of young adult carers aged 14-25 have been bullied at school because of their caring role, shock new figures have revealed.

And even more startingly, over two thirds of young adult carers (YACs) aged 8-16 have been bullied because they care for someone, the survey by the Carers Trust found.

The trust's new report - 'Young Adult Carers at School' - shows that the physical and mental health of YACs is also coming under increased pressure.

Over a third (38%) have reported a mental health problem and 29% told the survey that their physical health was only "just ok".

Iona, a YAC from Helensburgh, was bullied at school. The 18-year-old said: "The bullying started in primary school and went all the way through secondary.

"It was verbal not physical but it was relentless. At first, I stopped going out as much, then I stopped going out altogether.

"My attendance at school suffered and it affected all of my future plans. The abuse affected me mentally and I found it very difficult to cope. I felt things started to fall out of place, rather than into place for me.”

With seven million carers in the UK, three in five of us will become a carer at some point in our lives, and most of us will know a carer, the Carers Trust says.

An ONS survey into lifestyle habits found that 16-24 year olds spend on average three hours and 34 minutes a day using a computer, or 17.5 hours per week, almost as much time as a YAC would spend caring.

Recent statistics show that over 235,000 of YACs aged 16-24 care for up to 19 hours per week and over 37,000 care for more than 50 hours per week.

Thea Stein, CEO of the Carers Trust, said: “We know from talking to carers that caring does affect physical and mental health. It is bad enough to hear this from adult carers but to hear this from children and young people is truly shocking.

“Returning to study after the summer break can be daunting for many young people but imagine being a young carer or a young adult carer who not only has to get themselves ready for school, often having been woken through the night, but also has to get the person that they care for, and possibly other family members ready, for the day ahead. And then having finally reached school, to know that it’s not a safe place to be because of the bullying.

“Many young carers tell us that they are exhausted even before they get to school or college. This means that they are tired and less likely to concentrate on school work. They often struggle with finding the time to do homework too and we know that YACs between 16 and 18 years old are twice as likely to not be in education, employment or training. And of course, our report shows that many of them are bullied, making life as a young carer very, very difficult.

“We probably all know a carer like Iona. It could be your elderly neighbour caring for his wife, the dad across the road caring for her disabled daughter or the boy in your son’s class who cares for his mum who has cancer. Carers come from all walks of life. Please help us help them by getting involved with our campaign.”

The Carers Trust has launched its first ever national fundraising campaign alongside the new report.

Britain’s Best Breakfast’ is aiming to help raise money to support all unpaid carers and to encourage people to wake up to the realities of caring.

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