For your thesis*, you investigated the mental health and quality of life of young carers. What purpose?
It was threefold: determining, in a high school population, the proportion of young caregivers; identify their characteristics, by comparing them to young people not confronted with the illness, on the one hand, and to young people who have a sick relative without being in a care situation, on the other hand; identify the factors that influence their mental health and quality of life. We received more than 2,800 responses from high school students mainly from Île-de-France and Center-Val-de-Loire.
Analysis of the results shows that 14 to 17% of high school students accompany a parent, a brother or sister or a grandparent. The help they provide consists largely of shopping, cleaning, preparing meals, and taking care of their siblings. The minor is not necessarily the main caregiver, but he or she provides support. For example, the young person can act as support for a mother who helps her own sick mother, by relieving her of daily tasks. They also provide a lot of emotional and emotional support to their loved ones. Treatments such as washing, dressing, dressing, which are generally a little less frequent, are more common when the loved one has a somatic illness.
Are children helping their parents who do not speak French with administrative tasks also caregivers?
Yes. Some take care of the procedures, the translation, particularly during medical appointments… Sometimes, without their parents being ill, some are led, due to a set of social factors, to take on this role. I call them young social workers.
Do you have the feeling that young carers are starting to be taken into account?
Between the time I started my thesis and today, things have actually changed. In particular, there was the government plan “Acting for caregivers 2020-2022”. For the first time, the texts mentioned these young people. The Jade association, created in 2017, has also contributed a lot to making them visible. The financing of my thesis as well as other studies prove that we are taking more control of the subject. But the situation of these minors must be even better known to health personnel as well as National Education.
Some associations request recognition of caregiver status as well as compensation for adults. Concerning those under 18, that concerns me. Are we not at risk of locking young people into the label of caregiver during adolescence, at the very moment when they are in the process of constructing their identity? The young people concerned above all need help from their loved ones, relieving them of their responsibilities, and also moments of respite.
* Supported in 2021, available online.