I care for my father who has mental health challenges. That started when I was about 12. My caregiving role entails a lot of emotional support and things within the home. So things like taking care of my siblings and then also supporting my dad. To the outside world it might not look like I’m a caregiver. My friends never knew. My teachers never knew. There’d be times when I’d be up all night helping the household and then have to go to school.
One of the biggest challenges young caregivers face is not knowing you’re a caregiver. Young caregivers are people who are 12 to 25 years old who care for someone with some sort of challenge and through that role there often are consequences. Maybe you’re not able to do school work as well as you could if you weren’t in that position. Maybe you can’t hang out with friends. My biggest advice is to not do it alone – help is available if you need it.
My experience as a young carer has totally shaped who I am. When I decided to go to university, I went into the social work field. I wanted to help children who had been through adverse childhood experiences, like me. It’s really hard to be a young caregiver, but it’s also really rewarding.