Steep decline in mental health of Scottish young carers following Coronavirus outbreak

A new Carers Trust Scotland survey shows pandemic’s dramatic impact on wider wellbeing of young carers in Scotland:

  • 45% of young carers and 68% of young adult carers in Scotland say their mental health is worse as a result of Coronavirus. 
  •  71% of young carers and 85% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey were more worried about the future since coronavirus.
  •  51% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey are spending more money due to coronavirus.
  • 58% of young carers in Scotland who responded to the survey say their education is suffering as a result of Coronavirus.
  •  42% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey say they are unable to take a break from caring as a result of Coronavirus.

(Young carers aged 12 to 17 and young adult carers aged 18 to 25 responded to the survey)

“[Coronavirus] has made me more anxious, lost, unconnected, unsure and very sad that we can't hug our dad, nanna, aunts/uncles, cousins and friends. Future so uncertain.”

15-year-old female carer in Scotland

 The results of a new Carers Trust Scotland survey (1 – see notes to Editor for sample size), published today, point to a steep decline in the mental health and wellbeing of young people across Scotland who provide unpaid care at home for family members or friends.

The survey is the first of its kind to provide 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 Scotland’s young people with caring responsibilities. It is part of a larger Carers Trust survey of young carers from across the UK. Young carers aged 12 to 17 and young adult carers aged 18 to 25 responded to the survey.

Coronavirus increases caring hours and pressures on young carers

Even before the outbreak of Coronavirus, young carers and young adult carers were all too often spending significant amounts of time caring for a relative in addition to the time they needed to spend on education, work and time for themselves. Coronavirus has significantly increased those pressures. The survey found that 10.6% of young carers in Scotland who responded to the survey said that they had seen the number of hours they spend caring per week increase by 30 hours. A similar proportion of young adult carers reported the same increase in caring hours per week.

Most disturbing of all, 6.4% of young carers and 10.59% 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 made to them, 58% of young carers in Scotland said their education was suffering and 45% said their mental health had worsened. Asked the same question, 68% of young adult carers said their mental health had become worse and 42% said they had been unable to take a break from caring.

Responding to findings published today, Director of Scotland and Northern Ireland at Carers Trust, Louise Morgan, said:

“This is the first snapshot of how Coronavirus is affecting thousands of young people with caring responsibilities across Scotland. And the results are extremely concerning. It’s clear that the pandemic has made what was already a very worrying picture for young carers in Scotland far, far worse. That’s why we are calling for more support and more services to ensure that young people with caring responsibilities get the support they need.”

Other key findings from the survey:

  • 69% of young carers and 76% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey felt less able to stay in touch with friends since Coronavirus.
  • 74% of young carers and 73% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey said they are feeling less connected to others since Coronavirus.
  • 69% of young carers and 76% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey said they are feeling more stressed since Coronavirus.
  • 59% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey are struggling to look after themselves.
  • 56% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey are feeling overwhelmed by the pressures they are facing now.

See below a series of quotes from young carers and young adult carers in Scotland on how they have been affected by Coronavirus.

Ends

Notes to editor:

Expert spokespeople from Carers Trust Scotland, and young carers, are available for interview on request.

For further information, and to arrange interviews, please contact:

Paul Traynor – 07824 542964 E: ptraynor@carers.org
Matt Whitticase - 07824 539481 E: mwhitticase@carers.org

(1) 214 responses were made in total from across the Scotland. This gives a maximum margin of error for the findings in Scotland of +/- 6.69%.

Carers Trust

Carers Trust is a major charity for, with and about carers. We work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring, unpaid, for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.  www.carers.org 

We do this with a UK wide network of quality assured independent partners and through the provision of grants to help carers get the extra help they need to live their own lives. With locally based Network Partners we are able to support carers in their homes through the provision of replacement care, and in the community with information, advice, emotional support, hands on practical help and access to much needed breaks. We offer specialist services for carers of people of all ages and conditions and a range of individual tailored support and group activities.

Our vision is that unpaid carers count and can access the help they need to live their lives.

The voices of young carers  in Scotland

All the responses below were given in response to the following question in the Carers Trust survey:

“What difference has Coronavirus made to your life as a young carer or young adult carer?”

“It’s made it harder. I don’t get any respite, no time away or family support.” 12-year-old female carer in Scotland

“Coronavirus has made it harder to get a break from my caring role and has made me feel more unsafe at home.” 14 year-old-female carer in Scotland

“Has made me more anxious, lost, unconnected, unsure and very sad that we can't hug our dad, nanna, aunts/uncles, cousins and friends. Future so uncertain.” 15-year-old female carer in Scotland

“I’m stressed with having to care and take care of myself as well as struggling to sleep.” 17-year-old male carer in Scotland

“I feel as if it has made it more difficult to care for my father as I have been unable to take care of myself properly.” 18-year-old male carer in Scotland

“The difference now is that I can’t get out of the house for a day and we can’t afford to do or get anything. We are just getting by with only making 80% of our wages. It’s a lot harder to keep on top of the rent and we spend more money on alcohol and cigarettes which makes it harder to afford electricity and some foods. It’s harder to eat fresh and healthy because we can’t afford it at the moment. I have gained a lot of weight since lockdown and it really affects my mental health. Everyone in my household including myself are sick of constantly seeing each other and cabin fever is really bad as well.” 19-year-old female carer in Scotland

“I have no help or support whatsoever now - I’m caring 24/7 and I’m exhausted and mentally drained. My young carers service is closing before lockdown ends so I now won’t have any support and I don’t know how I’m going to cope.” 22-year-old female carer in Scotland

“It has made my caring role more pronounced/taken away other outlets of my life such as study. It has made me feel more isolated from my friends who don't have caring responsibilities.” 24-year-old female carer in Scotland