Who’ll care for the carers? Six out of 10 left to suffer mental illness
HUNDREDS of thousands of unpaid carers in Scotland are suffering from mental health problems and struggling to keep their jobs, a new poll has revealed.
Six in ten carers have suffered a mental health illness – such as depression, anxiety or stress – and the same number say their jobs have been adversely affected.
A poll by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers also highlights how 27 per cent of carers say both their mental and physical health has suffered.
Latest figures show there are 657,000 carers in Scotland, with a fifth of them caring for a relative for more than 50 hours a week.
The study shows 64 per cent of carers have never accessed any specialist carer services, such as respite breaks, counselling and advice on how to claim benefits to which they are entitled.
The majority of carers who took part in the poll had been in a caring role for more than five years and told how they had never sought any help or support.
Many told how they were unaware of any organisations that could help them and have called for GPs and other health professionals to do more to offer advice on where they can turn for support.
Anne Roberts, chief executive of the trust, said: “Our survey shows many unpaid carers have never accessed any support services and how many simply don’t have any awareness of the kind of help that is out there and what a huge difference it could make to their lives.”
She said the poll had been published to encourage more carers to seek information, advice and practical support and to encourage people to recognise and value carers, most of whom were unpaid.
Dame Judi Dench, a supporter of the trust, said: “Many carers are unaware of the support available to them and continue looking after their family or friends without any help and often at a cost to their own health and well-being.”
The study also revealed that one in four carers took between one to five years to even realise they were carers.
More than half of those questioned said they felt they needed a break from their role, felt isolated or were finding it difficult to cope with their circumstances.
The main state benefit some carers can claim is carer’s allowance. It is only given to people who regularly spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with a severe disability. The average carer in Scotland receives £55.55 a week in carer’s allowance.
The trust says more than half of carers entitled to the allowance failed to claim it, with many not even realising they are entitled to the cash.
Other statistics from the trust showed that one in five carers admits to being in debt.
Across the UK, carers – who look after family members or friends who are ill, frail or disabled, or who have mental health or addiction problems – are estimated to save the government £87 billion a year.
There are approximately six million carers across the UK, according to the Princess Royal Trust for Carers.
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