Most children and young people who have a parent with mental illness will not think of themselves as carers. They may think of themselves as surviving, as lonely and isolated, and of suffering all the common experiences listed in this article. Many parents with mental illness will not acknowledge that their child has become their carer rather than the converse. So many children and young people may be left vulnerable to sometimes extremely damaging and distressing situations but without a role that recognises their contribution or even commands appropriate respect. There is a danger that simply defining these children and young people as 'young carers' may provide a cloak of acceptability for allowing quite intolerable demands to be made on them. However, young carers do have some level of support in the UK in the form of young carers' groups. So, with the above provisos, that is the focus of this article.
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