Young Carers

What’s a YOUNG CARER

A young carer is someone under the age of 25 who is affected by or cares for a loved one who has a chronic illness, disability, mental health or substance use issue and/or problems related to old age or socioeconomic status. 

Typically, children and youth under 18 are referred to as young carers, while those over 18 are called young adult carers.

Why does this matter?

Children as young as 5 take on responsibilities like administering medication, translating in healthcare or banking settings, emotionally supporting family members, medical assistance, personal care and more. While caregiving can have many benefits (heightened empathy, maturity and confidence), there are important negative consequences. Significant time away from friends and school, social isolation and heightened stress can impact school retention, post-secondary education and training, employment, health and wellbeing. 

So far, very little attention has been paid to these youth in Canada, with no dedicated policies acknowledging their care-work, and only a few emerging services dedicated to supporting them.

COMING SOON!

This magazine, available in English or in French, includes information and stories about what being a young carer is like, emotional regulation and self-care strategies, tips for balancing school and caregiving, media recommendations, and where to find help. 

How many young carers are there in Canada?

According to the 2018 General Social Survey on Caregiving and Care Receiving, about 1.25 million young people aged 15 to 25 (roughly 19% of that age group) provided care or help to family members or friends with a long-term condition, a physical or mental disability, or problems related to aging (Statistics Canada, 2022). Globally several studies have found that caregiving starts as young as 6, and that on average, 10% of all youth are caregivers in need of our help.

Support is available!

Are you between 18 and 30 years old and supporting a loved one with a mental illness? 

Here are some of AMI’s programs that can help you

Support Groups
(We’ve even got a specific Young Adults group!)

Talk to a counsellor: SOS Famille

Workshops

Are you looking for services for a young carer?

Get in Touch 

Reach out to Oliver at youngcarers@amiquebec.org to:

  • Learn about supports for young carers
  • Organize an information or training session for your staff or clients
  • Organize an event for young carers you work with
  • Join our Working Group
  • Learn how you can help!

Click here to sign up for email updates about our young carer initiatives

How professionals can help young carers

Important people in a young person’s life, like teachers, doctors, and social workers, can make a world of difference by providing support to young carers. Caregivers are placed under stress, which makes providing that care a risk factor for their own mental health. So, caregivers are a demographic to directly consider in mental health promotion and prevention activities, irrespective of the issue they are helping someone with. Luckily, the things they need are familiar to us: coping strategies, education, breaking down stigma, and simply to be heard. 

We have a section for professionals on our toolkits and guides page. Click here.

What AMI is doing to help young carers

Working Group

Established in 2018, our Working Group includes young carers, professionals from a variety of sectors, and researchers. Together, the Working Group coordinates resources and mobilizes knowledge from their areas of expertise. Involvement in the Working Group is flexible – reach out to youngcarers@amiquebec.org to find out more. 

VISION STATEMENT

We envision a society that:

  1. Recognizes and values the important contributions young carers make in providing care and support to family and loved ones.
  2. Provides a variety of supports and resources to young carers to assist them in maintaining their caregiving role, and to ensure their healthy physical, emotional, and social development. 

MISSION STATEMENT

The Young Carers Working Group is committed to promote protective factors and minimize risk factors that might be related to providing care to family and loved ones at a young age. The Working Group will:

  • raise awareness of the role young carers play
  • explore the range of their needs
  • encourage the provision of information and supports
  • influence policies and services aimed at supporting young carers in their role

Our Approach

Our initiative addresses young carers irrespective of why they provide care, be it related to their loved one’s mental health, disability, age, language, or socioeconomic circumstances. This is an intersectional approach that respects that “care” is defined differently by people of different backgrounds, cultures, and circumstances.

Taking care of a loved one presents a lot of challenges for your own mental health, so we recognize caregiving as a risk factor in youth mental health. This means that broad mental health promotion activities are a great way to address young carers, and it helps us reach young people who likely don’t yet know the term “young carer” and may not identify with the label. 

Milestones

Back in 2018, AMI-Quebec recognized this underserved population and the negative ramifications associated with the lack of recognition and support of young carers. A working group was created to explore this further and develop ways for change.

A collaboration of AMI-Quebec and Proche Aidance Quebec, in March 2019, the first ever Quebec-based symposium on young carers (watch a summary here!) was held in Montreal, with the goal of putting young carers on the map. It aimed to increase recognition and awareness of the problem, and ultimately to advocate for services to address young carers’ needs, and encourage the development of a legal framework that could promote both awareness and support.

Our 2022 Edith and John Hans Low-Beer Memorial Lecture featured Dr. Saul Becker, a world-leader in young carers research from the UK! Take a look: 

In October 2023, we held the 2nd Young Carers Symposium, with 165 participants both in person and online, who were inspired to continue working to improve the conditions for the over 1.25 million Canadians who are young carers. Take a look at the playlist below:

Our bilingual handout on young carers in Quebec gives a basic overview of the challenges they face and examples of support in action. Click on the images below to enlarge. Please download and share!

If you’d like physical copies for your class, clinic, or community, contact Oliver: youngcarers@amiquebec.org.

Click here for the other videos in this series, including ones specifically for people working in education and health care (et pour les videos en français).

This program is made possible by the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence, and is supported by the CAP Santé Mentale’s Aider Sans Filtre Project and CHSSN.

Sign up for our emails to stay in touch
Please also follow us on:

Click here to add your own text