Adolescent young carers in Europe

An international research project aims to examine the situation of adolescent young carers in six different European countries. Through the evaluation and development of social interventions, the mental health and well-being of those concerned shall be improved.


Adolescent young carers (AYCs) are young people (15–17 years old) providing care, assistance or support to other family members. Taking on a caring role can lead to the occurrence of both immediate and long-term problems in AYCs’ mental health, well-being and development, as well as for their transitions to adulthood, social inclusion, education and employability. The phenomenon is highly relevant across Europe, albeit specific data, awareness and supports are not frequently available. Additionally there is a lack of understanding of the opportunities and the limitations of current policy and law for AYCs. The awareness of existing initiatives is currently being transferred across other European countries to only a limited extent.


The goal of the Horizon 2020 Project “Psychosocial Support for Promoting Mental Health and Well-being among Adolescent Young Carers in Europe (ME-WE)” is to strengthen the resilience of AYCs, to improve their mental health and well-being, and mitigate the negative influences of psychosocial and environmental factors.

It has three specific objectives:

  1.  to systematise knowledge on AYCs
  2.  to co-design, test and deliver psychosocial interventions, including an information and communication technology (ICT) intervention in six countries (Italy, Netherlands, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom)
  3.  to evaluate what works and provide knowledge translation actions at national, European and international levels

The work plan is developed into eight work packages (WPs):

  1. Profiles, needs and preferences of AYCs: The main goal is to conduct a cross-national comparison of the profiles, needs and preferences of AYCs.
  2. National policy, legal and service frameworks: The aim is to understand the contextual framework for AYCs in the six countries.
  3. Good practice, social innovations & evidence: the aim is to provide a systematic overview of successful strategies to improve the mental health and well-being of AYCs.
  4. Participatory co-design: The aim is to deliver psychoeducational, psychotherapeutic and social support at a distance.
  5. Implementation: WP5 implements the interventions designed in WP4.
  6. Evaluation and impact: WP6 coordinates all intervention evaluation activities.
  7. Knowledge exchange, dissemination and communication: The goal is to raise awareness about the situation and needs of young carers and the impacts of the ME-WE project among stakeholders and to coordinate and carry out a number of targeted dissemination and outreach activities at a European and national level.
  8. Project management: WP8 coordinates scientific, technical and financial activities throughout the project duration.

Under the lead of Agnes Leu Careum Research will especially be responsible for work package 2 “National policy, legal and service frameworks”. It aims to explore what provisions and policy frameworks exist and how they are enacted in the “real” world.

AYCs will be continuously involved in the project via national Blended Learning Networks, user groups, workshops, and through an International Advisory and Ethics Board.

Short version of the video

Project team

Prof. Dr. iur. Agnes Leu, Careum Research (Lead WP2)
Daniel Phelps, Senior Researcher
Alexandra Wirth, Project Coordinator
Elena Guggiari, Junior Researcher
Fabian Berger, Junior Researcher

Research partners

Elizabeth Hanson, Linnaeus University (SE): Department of Health and Caring Sciences
Stecy Yghemonos, Eurocarers (BE)
Saul Becker, University of Sussex
Anna Morris, Carers Trust (UK)
Alice de Boer, Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport - Netherlands Institute for Social Research (NE)
Frans van Zoest, Foundation Vilans (NE)
Sara Santini, National Institute of Health and Science on Ageing (IT)
Licia Boccaletti, Not Only Older People Social Cooperative (IT)
Valentina Hlebec, University of Ljubljana (SI): Faculty of Social Sciences

Cooperation partners

Berufsbildungszentrum Olten (BBZ)         


Horizon 2020


2018–2021 (39 months)


Leu, A., & Becker, S. (2016). A cross-national and comparative classification of in-country awareness and policy responses to 'young carers'. Journal of Youth Studies, 1–13. PDF


me-we-project website