On 11 May 2022, Renske Hoefman – from The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), Eurocarers member – and Inge Romeijn – young carer involved in many awareness raising activities in the Netherlands – met with Fatima Awil – Policy and Knowledge Officer at Mental Health Europe (MHE)- to discuss the link between caring and mental health. They also presented the findings of the ME-WE Project, in which they both were actively involved as researcher and as expert by experience, from 2018 to 2021.
The conversation took place in the framework of European Mental Health Week, a pan-European initiative set up and run by MHE, to celebrate the path to mental health awareness and action. The theme for this year (third edition of EMHW), ‘Speak Up for Mental Health’ shined the spotlight on youth mental health. Thanks to a successful collaboration between Eurocarers and Mental Health Europe, the programme of activities included a focus on young carers, in recognition of the fact that caring responsibilities constitute a risk factor for mental ill health. The tool used for the conversation was Instagram live, in order to reach the target audience (young people).
Renske and Inge – building on their personal and professional experience – shared concrete examples of actions to support young carers and stressed the need to actively engage young carers in all policies and services that impact them.
Inge referred to the importance of having the right attitude when starting the conversation with young carers. She emphasized that it is crucial to act soon, to prevent the occurrence of mental health problems later in adulthood. Her words are in line with the WHO data, according to which about half of the mental health problems affecting people in their adulthood have their onset during or before adolescence.
The conversation on young carers and mental health can be accessed here.
(Francesca Centola, Policy Officer, Mental Health Europe, 20.5.22).