Bereavement can have a significant impact on a person’s emotional wellbeing and mental health. Research shows that mental health disorders are more prevalent in children who have been bereaved. A study published by the National Children’s Bureau (Bereavement and child mental health) concluded that bereaved children were approximately one-and-a-half times more likely than other children to be diagnosed with any mental disorder. A factsheet from the centre for youth and criminal justice cites a range of research about the impact of bereavement:
“Research indicates that young people involved in offending are more likely to experience multiple, traumatic or parental bereavements than the general adolescent population (Vaswani,2008). In turn, traumatic and multiple bereavements are linked with a significantly increased risk of depression; and comorbidity (Dowdney, 2000); as well as negative outcomes in relation to education; self-esteem and risk-taking behaviour (Ribbens McCarthy, 2005).”
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has developed a webpage looking at how a death in the family may affect a child or young person, and offers advice on how to cope.
In order to support children’s developing understanding of loss and change and to support them to develop resilience, to know how and when to ask for help, and to know where to access support, the school’s PSHE curriculum should:
- Meet the statutory requirements for relationships, sex and health education;
- Have a strong focus on feelings, emotional literacy, accessing help and support, talking to arrange of trusted adults
Sources of further information, advice and guidance:
Solihull community educational psychology service (CEPS) provides professional psychological services for children, young people and families in a wide range of educational and community settings.
Tel: 0121 704 6690
The service incorporates specialist support to people working on the front-line and in key worker roles, black and minority ethnic communities, children and young people, and anyone affected by suicide.
Tel: 0121 6878010
AtaLoss.org is a charitable movement of people across the UK who are passionate about enabling the bereaved to receive the support that they need. The site has a useful directory of charities and sources of support for a range of contexts in which the bereavement may have occurred.
Winston’s Wish provides professional therapeutic help in individual, group and residential settings via a national helpline, interactive website and publications. They are able to provide bereaved children and their families with a range of support services. They are also able to offer training and consultancy.
Helpline: 08452 03 04 05
Telephone: 01242 515157
The Childhood Bereavement Network (link opens in a new tab or page)
The Childhood Bereavement Network (CBN) is the hub for those working with bereaved children, young people and their families across the UK. They are able provide a range of resources for bereaved children and young people and those working with them. They also provide information about signposting professionals and bereaved families to local and national sources of support
Telephone: 020 7843 6309
Child Bereavement UK (link opens in a new tab or page)
CBUK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement. They provide confidential support, information and guidance to families and professionals.
Helpline: 0800 0288840
Training: 01494 568908
Primary schools’ campaign website: http://www.elephantsteaparty.co.uk/
Death by suicide
The Samaritans have produced a step-by-step guide for schools to support responding to (and preparing for) a suspected or attempted suicide within the school community.
Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) aims to provide a safe, confidential environment in which bereaved people can share their experiences and feelings, so giving and gaining support from each other. It is staffed by many who have been bereaved by suicide.
The Emotional wellbeing and mental health page on this website contains information on deliberate self harm and attempted suicide which may also be of use.
Why we need to embrace the awkward and talk about suicide Pooky Knightsmith, mental health and emotional wellbeing advisor at the PSHE Association.
Managing a sudden death in the school community (LGfL)
Talking about death with your little one (CBeebies)
How to support a bereaved child (Video, Child Bereavement UK)
What helps grieving children and young people (pdf)
Benny’s Hat by Juliet Clare Bell and Dave Gray (Picture Book)
Benny’s Hat tells the story of Benny’s illness and death, from the point of view of little sister Friz, in an honest but gentle way. This is an ordinary family, dealing with something extraordinarily painful together, the best way each of them can.
Buy at Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bennys-2017-Juliet-Clare-Bell/dp/1999729609
See the trailer video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E7gCXYA0N5k]]>