Young carers can experience many benefits from their caring role. They often gain important skills and develop strong bonds with the person they care for and other family members. Many young carers rightfully have feelings of pride and satisfaction from their caring role.
However, a caring role that is beyond a young person’s capacity and maturity can have serious negative consequences for their health and wellbeing, education, employment, relationships and socialisation. Young carers, especially those with entrenched and intensive caring roles, are at risk of long term disadvantage, particularly in terms of education and employment outcomes. Below is a summary of some of the key impacts in different areas of life, although it is important to emphasise both that these are interconnected, and that that every young carer’s situation is different.
Impacts of caring responsibilities for young people:
- Feeling isolated and alone because they feel they can’t tell anyone about their situation
- Higher risk of stress, anxiety and depression because of the responsibilities of their caring role and concern about the welfare of those they care for
- Fear of being seen as ‘different’
- Changes in the parent/child relationship because of caring can lead to a heavy emotional burden for a young carer, as well as a lack of parental guidance
- May feel uncomfortable about having friends over
- Hard to socialise because they are unable to leave the person they care for, or because they can’t afford it
- May be more mature than peers due to their caring responsibilities and find it difficult to ‘fit in’
- Risk of poor health because of lack of sleep and stress
- Strain, injury and even permanent damage caused by physical tasks of caring including lifting and carrying
- Difficulty achieving their full potential in education due to the impact of the caring role, including being late for school, missing days, failure to complete homework and lack of concentration
- Difficult to balance work with caring responsibilities because of lack of flexible work
If you would like to learn more about young carers, contact Carers NSW on (02) 9280 4744 or visit the ‘Research‘ web page on our website and download the Carers NSW Young Carer Policy Statement. If you would like to refer a young carer, please click here.