You don’t live in a bubble. There are a lot of other things around you that can have a big impact on your life. Here are a few to think about.

School

School can be a challenge when you are a young carer. You might use school as a distraction, or focus on it because it helps you cope with your situation. Maybe you don’t have the time, energy or interest you need to do well in class. Your stressful family situation can make it hard to focus or interfere with your sleep and studying so you don’t get the grades you want. If you have trouble at school, people may think you are not smart. But, just because you’re not getting good grades, doesn’t mean you don’t have the potential. The skills you learn from being a young carer are also important. You may not realize it now, but they can be skills your peers don’t have and can help you in other areas of your life.

Managing when you are at school can be hard. For example, you may not have the opportunity to stay in touch with home due to cell phone rules. It can be very distracting wondering how things are going at home while trying to focus on school. Finding people you can talk to can also be tough. School counsellors, teachers, and other support staff don’t always know what you need and may not be around every day. If you don’t have somebody who understands, you may feel really alone. When you do find someone you trust, school can be a safe and supportive place.

Health Care

Dealing with the health care system can be really overwhelming. It’s scary when someone you love is sick. It’s often hard to understand their illness, mental health issue, or disability and how to help them. You might deal with doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and others who do not want to tell you information because they don’t understand your role in your family, or who give information in a way that you don’t understand. This can leave you frustrated, concerned, confused and feeling left out of important conversations. However, there are some health care professionals who truly care and will take the time to address your concerns.

Culture

Your culture greatly impacts the role and expectations that you have in your family. Your culture includes your individual family, your school, your community, your ethnic background, or other influences in your life. For example, you may have a different support system or level of privacy living in a small town versus living in a big city. You might find yourself becoming a young carer if your family moves to a new country. They may rely on you for help with almost everything from banking to contacting service providers and healthcare organizations to making sense of bills and other mail.

This can happen when your family has difficulty communicating due to language differences, or does not yet understand the processes of the new country. A lot of responsibility can then fall on you to become their voice and guide. You may feel pulled in different directions because your family may want you to stay close to your heritage and traditions but you might really want to fi t in with your peers and community by forming your own identity.

Ways to Cope 
  • Knowledge is power! Learn as much as you can:
    • Check out YouTube videos and relevant websites for young carers.
    • Talk to librarians to get help finding good information.
    • Ask your family doctor or other health care provider any questions you have. Bring a list of your questions with you to appointments.
    • Call 211 or visit www.211.ca for free and confidential information about Canadian health and community services available in your area.
  • Support matters! Connect with people when you can:
    • Join a support group on your own or with your family if available locally or online.
    • Contact a community organization relating to the issue your family is dealing with.
    • Think about finding a different health care professional, if yours isn’t helpful.
    • Find a trusted person who can be there for you.
    • Be open and talk about your needs – exceptions can often be made at school if teachers are aware of your situation.