Young carers need care too

BEFORE he leaves the house each morning, Andrew will make the school lunches, feed the toddler, hang out a load of washing and check the fridge to see what has to be bought for the family’s meal that night.Andrew is nine years old and is living in a household with a parent affected by mental illness.Community development officer for mental health at Sunflower House, Bev Denley, said Andrew is just one of more than one million children living in Australian households where at least one parent has a mental illness.October is mental health month across Australia and Ms Denley is spreading the word to break down the stigma relating to mental illness.“The message we want to send is to change the way people think about mental illness and that having a parent with a persistent mental illness really impacts on the life of their children and can make their lives very challenging,” she said.Ms Denley has previously worked in education for 30 years, and said she is “ashamed to say” she wasn’t aware of how difficult it would be for young people caring for their parents with a mental illness.“These parents can be so depressed that they can’t think clearly and may not give their children the same opportunities as other children may get,” she said.“One out of five people experience mental illness, so that would mean there would be a lot of children living in a house with a mentally ill parent.”“I am very committed to each young person being able to reach their potential in life.“We need to reach out and offer our support to young carers.”

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