What I celebrate as a young adult carer

Illustration shows two young people dancing for joy against a pink background. The text around them reads: "what I celebrate as a young carer"

Hi I’m Rosario, I help care for my mum who suffers from mental illness. I have recently finished studying for Social Policy Masters at university in York. I want other young adult carers to feel the goals they want to achieve are possible and that they aren’t alone. Family always comes first for me.

Caring for someone with a mental health condition

My mum’s illness has made us closer. My role as a carer can be subtle and might include alerting my dad or a mental health professional to changes in my mum’s behaviour or mood to support her. It requires a non-judgemental attitude and understanding of how much reassurance and support helps in different instances. I am passionate about raising awareness, specifically about being a carer for someone with mental illness, as I feel it’s not discussed enough in society.

Being a young adult carer has helped me to develop my emotional and inner life and understanding of other people. I care for my mum, who suffers from Schizophrenia and Bipolar. Her illness has made me realise that people’s differences need to be accepted and celebrated, including my own. My experience as a carer has also helped me judge people less and be aware that they could be going through difficulties that may not be obvious to others.

We need to open up about mental health

I feel society puts too much of an emphasis on presenting a perfect facade and would love to see people opening up about mental health more. On visiting my mum in a psychiatric hospital, she and the patients didn’t behave in a ‘normal’ way. However, I witnessed greater kindness and humour than in my day-to-day-life. This experience has given me the drive to want to help de-stigmatise mental illness and reduce ignorance about it, to help those suffering as well as to help their loved ones feel less alone. This article is one of the first steps on this journey!

The best things about being a young adult carer

Although being a young carer poses its challenges, I feel lucky to have the learning opportunities that arise from my situation. Being a young adult carer has definitely taught me to be determined. Despite hiccups with university and in my personal life, I have bounced back! If my mum can keep going despite her illness, so can I. My friends often come to me for a listening ear when they have problems and call me sensitive and kind. I feel that this is partly something I have developed due to my mum’s illness. Often, I will be on the lookout for slight changes in mood and behaviour, and one of my main ways of caring for her is providing emotional support.

Something I celebrate is that despite going to a uni, where people often came from privileged backgrounds, I was independent and single-minded in getting there. I never had anyone drive me hundreds of miles up the country with expensive kitchen appliances on my arrival and my parents weren’t able to attend my graduation, but I did these things myself. At times I’ve felt like I haven’t made the most of my opportunities, but now I realise everyone has a different timeline and it’s helpful to myself and others to be honest about this, and about the fact I’ve done things in my own way; with the circumstances I’ve had, this is an achievement.

A positive of being a carer as a young adult is meeting support workers at Carers Support Wiltshire. They have helped me feel like someone cares. Being a carer has given me the ability to be independent, but that has also meant an unwillingness to ask for help. This has begun to change recently though.

Being involved with the charity has helped to give me a space to be more open about my situation. I hardly spoke about it to anyone before and feel confident in my personal life to share it now. I have learnt about other young carers’ experiences and I would like to help other young people see the positives and feel proud of their dedication.

How to find support as a young carer or young adult carer

Visit our young carers hub page for support and information.

Find support from other carers by joining The Mix’s young carer group chats.

Read The Mix’s article to find tips on managing your money as a young carer.

Read The Mix’s guide to caring for someone with a mental health condition.

Get specialist help and support for young carers and young adult carers from the Carers Trust.

Next Steps

  • Carers Trust is a major charity for, with and about carers. They work to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of unpaid caring.
  • Carers UK equips carers with practical help and advice. Meet others in the same position and get the support you need by joining Carers UK's online forum.
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.

By Rosario

Updated on 21-Aug-2020