Background Utilising the knowledge derived from Attachment theory, Growing Around Grief theory and Continuing Bonds theory, Winston’s Wish supports children and young people (CYP) to rebuild their lives after a death in the family. This study investigated the medium-term effectiveness of SWITCH, a programme supported by the Big Lottery, for CYP aged 8–14 years who were at increased risk of truancy or antisocial behaviour.
Methods The study explored whether tailored psychotherapeutic support after the death of a parent, grandparent or sibling can enhance CYP’s psychological, social and educational functioning. Data was collected at either home or school settings across three points in time: initial attendance (baseline), one month after the end of support and six months afterwards. Participants (n=108) completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), which enhances the identification of children at risk of developing mental health problems.
Results The cause of death for the vast majority of families was accident or illness. Death of a father was experienced by 41% of CYP. Six months after the end of support, improvements were shown for the following areas: peer relationship difficulties, emotional difficulties, behavioural difficulties, overall stress and impact of difficulties on the child’s life.
Conclusions CYP with multiple needs who were supported through this programme experienced fewer mental health difficulties in the medium-term. Tailored psychosocial support can promote adaptive developmental outcomes after bereavement and it can be particularly helpful for CYP who face school or social adjustment difficulties.
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