Young carers need more support to reduce the risk of being bullied and suffering mental health and well-being problems as a result, according to Barnardo’s, the UK’s largest children’s charity.
Research shows that young people who have caring responsibilities for relatives or siblings are more likely to be bullied than their peers because of their family situation.
It is estimated there are 700,000 young carers in the UK, many of whom are vulnerable due to the stresses and strains caring for family members brings.
Many young carers spend 20 hours or more each week caring for their relative. They cook, clean, wash, shop, administer medication and often help to look after their siblings too.
And those young carers whose parents have mental health problems are three times more likely than other children to experience mental health problems themselves.
These include anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and behavioural problems.
This week is Anti-Bullying Week which aims to raise awareness of how the effects of bullying can have a massive impact on all individuals, whether that is at school, work, college or socially.
Barnardo’s, which runs 21 specialist young carers services across the UK, says too many young carers do not get the support they need and their mental health suffers as a result.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“Young carers can be left feeling isolated and alone because of their situation and unable to turn to anyone for help.
“Being bullied adds to this feeling of isolation and has a significantly detrimental effect on their mental health and wellbeing.
“To counter this schools need to be more aware when a child is a young carer and how to spot the signs they are being bullied.
“There also needs to be more protective factors put into place like a teacher who understand their situation, access to school counsellors and quick referrals to young carer services.”