Three in ten young UK adult carers have thought about self-harming, study shows

Study raises concerns about the mental health of young UK caregivers.

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Almost one-third of young adult caregivers in the United Kingdom consider self-harm, according to new study.

28 percent of teenage young caregivers in the United Kingdom consider self-harm, according to study published today in the International Journal of Caring and Care.

The research was conducted by the Me-We Young Carers Project utilising data collected from 2,100 15- to 17-year-old young caregivers from Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Caregivers Trust was a prominent UK partner of the Me-We project, collaborating with Network Partners to collect data from 68 young adult carers across the United Kingdom.

The study indicated that the negative effects of caregiving on the mental health of young caregivers were particularly prominent in the United Kingdom.

Because of their caring position, 14% of the teenage young caregivers in the European sample admitted to having suicidal thoughts. In the United Kingdom, however, the proportion quadrupled to 28 percent.

In addition, 36% of young caregivers in the six nations questioned reported that their mental health had deteriorated as a result of their caring obligations. But in the United Kingdom alone, this number grew to 56 percent.

The Me-We Project study supports earlier Caregivers Trust research on young carers in the United Kingdom.

The Carers Trust study discovered:

  • More than half (53%) of teenage caregivers and young adult carers reported an increase in the amount of time spent caring per week over the last year.
  • At least a third of young caregivers responding to the poll reported feeling ‘always’ or ‘usually’ lonely as a consequence of their caring duty; and more than four in ten young carers reported feeling ‘always’ or ‘usually’ stressed as a result of their caring position.
  • Forty percent of young caregivers and young adult carers who responded to the poll stated they never or seldom had someone to discuss being a young carer at school.
  • 52 percent of teenage caregivers and young adult carers who responded to the poll reported that their school, college, or university did not assist them in reconciling their caring duty with their studies.

Professor Saul Becker from Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education played a leading role in the Me-We research study.

Responding to the Me-We research, he said in comments reported by the Press Association: “A significant number of adolescent young carers are experiencing real difficulty, isolation and distress.

“The results do not mean they would actually hurt someone, but it is clear they sometimes feel desperate.

“That can manifest itself in various ways: they may get into trouble at school, think about hurting themselves, or feel as though they want to lash out.”



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