Young carers: The truth behind the myths

A young person stands in the kitchen cooking

What are the myths about young carers?

If you’re a young carer or a young adult carer, you might find it frustrating that other people make certain assumptions about you, or simply don’t understand the reality of your day to day life 

We spoke to a group of young carers and young adult carers to find out which myths or misconceptions they hear the most from those outside the carer community. With their help, we’ve put together a list to set the record straight!  

Myth: Carers are always isolated 

It’s true that carers can sometimes find it more difficult to make time for friends and relationships because they spend a lot of time caring. However, there are plenty of community groups carers can join, as well as events such as the annual Young Carers Festival and support networks such as The Mix discussion boards. Plenty of young carers also have friendship groups outside of the caring community and are often close to their families.  

Myth: All young carers resent or are unhappy about caring 

Caring can be hugely rewarding and an amazing experience. As well as helping someone you love and forming a strong bond with that person, you can also learn a lot about yourself in the process, including about your own strength and resilience. Caring can give you the confidence that you can handle challenges and it can make you brilliant at time management! 

Myth: You can’t be a young carer unless you’re of secondary school age

Being a young carer can start from a really young age and some are as young as eight years old. However, the average age to be recognised as a young carer is 14 years old. This is partly because not all primary schools are aware about the role of a young carer at a young age and may not realise they have a young carer at the school.

Myth: All carers care for people who are physically ill 

In the world of carers, there are many types of carers who look after people with a range of health issues and other needs. This can include caring for people with health problems, addictions, eating disorders, mental health issues and both physical and learning disabilities. Each kind of caring is unique, requires specific skills and can have a different emotional impact on the carer.   

Myth: All schools and education settings are fully equipped with the knowledge to deal with young carers  

Not all primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities offer young carers and young adult carers the support and flexibility they need to cope with caring. This can sometimes be because they are underfunded, or not fully informed on the level of responsibility that young carers have outside of their studies. If you’re studying as a young carer, it’s important to let your teachers, tutors and professors know as soon as possible about your needs so they can give you the support you deserve.  

Myth: All young carers want a career in health and social care 

People assume all young carers want to work in a care setting, because this is what they have grown up doing and it therefore seems like their “natural” role. Though this is a case for some young carers, many grow up with their own aspirations to become lawyers, musicians, writers, scientists and many other diverse career paths.  

Myth: Young carers aren’t interested in education  

In education, young carers sometimes aren’t encouraged because of the myth that they aren’t interested in learning and that they “don’t want to be there.” However, for many young carers, going to school or college is a much-needed break from their caring role (even if it can be stressful at times). Lots of young carers love studying and will go on to get great grades. 

Myth: Carers cost Britain money  

All young carers and young adult carers are unpaid. There is a carer’s allowance and this is for young adult carers to be awarded some money to spend on themselves. This can be awarded for driving lessons, going out with friends and many more reasons. Carers currently save the NHS £139 billion each year, so they should never be seen as a drain on the economy.  

If you’re looking for help and advice… 

If you or anyone you know are affected by the issues raised in this article, we’re here for you. Our team are here to listen and support you with any issue you may be facing. Head here to talk to our trained team of experts and volunteers, or to start a discussion on our community boards.  

Read our article on how to cope with stress and anxiety if you’re a young carer or a young adult carer. 

Looking for practical support and advice? Take a look at our article on support for young carers. 


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.
  • YoungMinds are the voice for young people's mental health and wellbeing.
  • 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 Holly Turner

Updated on 20-Nov-2019