The missing part of the carer puzzle

The Carers Trust have released a new report, ‘The Triangle of Care for Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services’ looking at the role of young carers and how they are supported by mental health services.

It’s encouraging to see important work is being done here in relation to parents as carers of young people with mental health problems.

The report rightly touches on the impact on the whole family and the expertise in the family system. However, it does not speak about young people who are caring for their mentally ill parent, those that are usually excluded from such reports time and again, and remain hidden.

We agree with their analysis that working with the whole family, recognising the knowledge and experience in the family system, thinking about the impact on the different family members, siblings, parents, the couple and so on. The need to work across health and social care, the need to provide support once the person is in recovery and has been discharged home or to community mental health providers, is also absolutely vital.

The triangle of care also makes sense and the fact that a number of NHS Mental Health Trusts have engaged with the passport system and membership of Carers Trust (who provide guidance and support to the family), is good news.

It’s time now to expand this to take in children who have parents with a mental illness and to work more to prevent children and young people getting ill through the stress and stigma of parental mental illness, and as a result becoming patients of the future.