This year, World Mental Health Day focuses on young people’s mental health in a changing world. In this blog, content channel editor Tania talks about the challenges faced by young carers and some ways to look after yourself if you are a young carer.

If you are under the age of 18, and you spend time looking after someone who has cancer, then you are a young carer. Being a young carer can affect your life in many ways.

For example, you may be doing things that your friends might not be doing, like helping around the house, doing the food shopping, and making dinner. You may also need to help the person with cancer to get dressed, change their bandages, or take their medicines.

Being a young carer can affect your emotions (and mental health)

Being a young carer can feel very hard. You may feel:

  • frightened about the future
  • sad and upset that this is happening to someone you love
  • exhausted or stressed because of the extra things you are doing
  • angry with the world, and the person who has cancer
  • guilty, even though what is happening is not your fault
  • worried or down.

This is perfectly normal. It can be hard to deal with every situation as it happens, and often your feelings hit you much later.

Look after yourself

You may feel overwhelmed by everything that is happening. But you should only take on as much as you can cope with.
Here are some things that can help:

Support if you would like to talk about your feelings

If you are struggling to cope or feel low, then it might be a good idea to talk to a counsellor. They are trained to help you understand your feelings so that you can cope better. You can go to your GP and ask to be referred to a counsellor. You can decide how much you would like to share with them, and anything you tell them will be confidential, so they won’t tell anybody else.

Positive changes

Being a young carer can be hard. But good things can also come out of the experience. You may become closer to the person you are looking after, learn new skills and feel more grown-up.

We have more information for young carers on our website, and in our booklet A guide for young people looking after someone with cancer. We also have an Online Community forum for all carers, where you may also find support or share your worries.

If you have any questions you can also call our support line on 0808 808 00 00, Monday to Friday, 9am to 8pm. 

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We're with you every step of the way

The Macmillan team is here to help. Our cancer support specialists can answer your questions, offer support, or simply listen if you need a chat. Call us free on 0808 808 00 00.

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