8 in 10 unpaid carers have described themselves as “lonely or socially isolated” due to their caring responsibilities in a new survey from the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness and Carers UK.
The study suggests that current carers who have not felt lonely were less likely to suffer mental ill-health (42 percent) compared to those who did. Carers who had felt lonely or isolated were almost twice as likely to report worsened mental health (77%).
"Given the significant mental health benefits of breaking this isolation, we’re asking everyone to start a conversation about caring."
Amongs carers, an unwillingness to talk to others about care responsibilities was a key barrier to inclusion at work, home and in the community. One third (32%) felt “uncomfortable” talking to friends about caring, as did those who felt “isolated” at work due to care responsibilities (32%).
According to carers, the following would make the biggest difference in combating loneliness:
- Regular breaks from caring (54%)
- More understanding from society (52%)
- Being able to take part in leisure activities (40%)
- Support paying for social activities (31%)
- More understanding at work (30%)
- Being in touch with other carers (29%)
- Feeling more able to talk to friends and family (23%)
- Being able to take part in education or training (21%)
Suffering in silence
Helena Herklots CBE, Chief Executive of Carers UK, said: "Loneliness is a powerful, sometimes overwhelming, emotion which all-too-many carers experience in silence. Caring touches all our lives yet society and public services often fail to grasp how isolating looking after a loved one can be.
"Caring for someone is one of the most important things we do but without support to have a life outside caring, it can be incredibly lonely worsened by financial pressures, poor understanding from friends and colleagues, and a lack of regular breaks.
"Given the significant mental and physical health benefits of breaking this isolation, we’re asking everyone to start a conversation about caring."