Young Carer Mental Health Clinic
Hi! I'm Bowie.
It’s nice to meet you.
I’m 11 years old and I care for my brother and my mum who both have a range of chronic and mental illnesses. Caring in my family is a shared responsibility between my dad and I, but sometimes it feels like I can take on the brunt of it while my dad works a lot. My family has always been worried about my mental health too.
I cry a lot, and I can get very angry easily (slamming doors and blasting my music really loud) but I also provide so much care in my family that it’s easy for me to put myself last. I think I really need to start thinking about how to support my own mental health though…I get a bit scared of the thoughts in my head sometimes.
1. Finding out about Little Dreamers
I first found out about Little Dreamers from a teacher at my school who noticed that I was always tired, the quality of my homework changed a lot and sometimes I displayed very attention seeking behaviour.
When my teacher pulled me aside though, they told me some really interesting things. For example, did you know that:
- 1 in 10 kids in Australia grow up as Young Carers
- ⅔ of us struggle with our mental health
- Only 4% of primary Young Carers finish high school (WOW!)
- We’re considered one of the four most at-risk groups of young people in Australia
2. Joining Programs
During my first interaction with Little Dreamers I had a conversation with my Young Carer Engagement Coordinator, Amber. Amber was the best! She asked me all about my caring role and responsibilities, about school, my friends and how I was feeling. It was the first time I had the opportunity to talk about myself. I LOVED IT! Amber also asked me about my mental health. She seemed like I could trust her, so I told her that sometimes I feel really anxious, and I get upset really easily.
Amber told me that Little Dreamers had recently launched a Young Carer Mental Health Clinic, and I can participate in that program at the same time as going along to School Holiday Programs, and having my own Dream Experience (check out the other amazing programs that Little Dreamers runs!)
3. The Young Carer Mental Health Clinic
The Young Carer Mental Health Clinic is actually pretty cool.
Not only does it support Young Carers aged 4 – 25 through a range of services (check them out), but the profits from the Clinic also goes towards making sure thousands of Young Carers just like me can continue to be supported by Little Dreamers’ other life changing programs.
4. My First Clinical Session!
I went along to my first session today at the Young Carer Mental Health Clinic. We decided that I would start off with Art Therapy to ease into mental health support, and then maybe progress onto sessions with a Counsellor focussing more on talk therapy if I need it. During the first session, we completed a DASS-21 Survey, and Sam, my Art Therapist went through a whole bunch of other questions creating what they called a “baseline”. This is meant to help them assess whether my mental health has improved after the six sessions we have together.
Fun fact! Sam also has lived experience as a Young Carer, in fact, all the clinicians here have lived experience. It makes talking to them about my caring role so much easier because they just get it.
5. Check out some of the skills I have developed
Over the course of my 6 sessions, we did lots of art activities (which I loved!) and I spoke all about how lonely I have felt at home. We implemented some different strategies and I have already noticed a difference in how I feel at home, and how I am coping with things differently. I have picked up lots of new strengths (have a look in my basket to find out more about what they are), and I am excited to think about who I want to be when I grow up.
6. The Financial Stuff...
I know you’re here to find out more about the nitty gritties of the Young Carer Mental Health Clinic to make sure that more Young Carers like me can access the service. While I don’t understand all of the charts (because I’m only 11), below we have included the projection charts including the number of Young Carers that will be supported per year, and the amount of profit this will then put back into Little Dreamers.
7. The Future of the Young Carer Mental Health Clinic
There are so many things that the Young Carer Mental Health Clinic can achieve in the future! These include:
- Improving the quality of life of Young Carers around Australia
- Delivering professional development to other organisations, clinicians, and students about supporting Young Carers
- Providing employment and training opportunities for people with lived experience of Caring
8. Thank you, from me to you!
I’m just glad that the Young Carer Mental Health Clinic exists. Little Dreamers already piloted the service with the Carer Gateway successfully and through the support from donors just like you, they were able to ensure Young Carers like me could get the support we need.
This service saved my life. Literally (dramatic…I know).