Caregiver Stress: An Exploration of Stressors and Coping Strategies Among Young Carers
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Young carers (YCs) are children and youth who take on extra responsibilities within their home due to a family member having a physical disability, chronic illness, mental health issues, addiction issues, or parental absence (Aldridge & Becker, 1993; Charles, Stainton, & Marshall, 2008; Stamatopoulos, 2015). YCs may experience increased stress levels and negative psychosocial outcomes due to their caregiving role (Charles et al., 2008; Collins & Bayless, 2013; Frank, Tatum, & Tucker, 1999; Lakman & Chalmers, 2018; Sahoo & Suar, 2010). Objective: This study sought to identify key stressors and coping strategies used by YCs and to determine if coping can moderate the relation between stress and negative outcomes. Methods: A sample of 58 YCs completed self-report questionnaires on stress, coping, self-esteem, depressive symptoms, anxiety, and loneliness. Results: YCs most frequently cited stressors related to recognition of their YC role within and outside of their family. Other stressors included school impacts and social impacts. YCs most frequently used disengagement coping strategies (e.g., wishful thinking or social withdrawal) and less frequently used engagement coping strategies (e.g., problem solving or seeking social support). The results revealed coping did not moderate the relation between stress and the examined negative outcomes within this sample. Implications: The results suggest the need for recognition and validation for YCs and the development of coping skill development programs so that YCs can learn how to cope using more proactive ways such as problem solving and seeking social support.