Caring lives: What do young people who care for family members need to thrive?
Young carers are children and young people who care for members of their families who have a disability or long term illness. Their responsibilities vary with the person who they care for and the nature of their illness, and previous research has found a diverse range of impacts on their lives.
The mixed methods research aims to build on previous research by developing and refining a theory of the causal relationship between being a young carer and mental health. My research questions include:
- What are the mental health impacts of caring for a family member over time, and how does their mental health compare with their peers?
- What are the causal mechanisms underpinning young carers and mental health?
- Is there a need to better support young carers, and what could a positive support intervention look like?
The research stages are as follows:
- To develop a realist synthesis of previous young carers literature, leading to the development of an initial theory.
- Longitudinal quantitative analysis of young carers and mental health with analysis of change over time and comparison with the wider population.
- Qualitative work with young carers to further test and refine the theory.
- Consideration of the need for a positive support intervention for young carers.