Background Mortality statistics and census information suggests approximately 370 parents die in Hertfordshire annually, leaving approximately 650 dependent children. Peer support is widely held to be an important way of helping children manage bereavement. Mindcraft is a group psychosocial programme (through medium of art making and creative activities, games and group support) to empower and support children through grief/loss with high level of emotional wellbeing. The group format is also more cost-effective, reaches wider beneficiaries and is good vehicle for involving parents/carers simultaneously.
To support parents, resourcing them to be available and responsive to their child’s grief needs thus minimising the potential long–term health manifestations (Gonclaves Soares, Howe, Matijasevich, Wehrmeister, et al., 2016;. Cuervo Tilson, 2018; World Health Organization, 2015);
To give children the opportunity to express their feelings within an informal group setting, meeting children with similar experiences and networking.
Method Four weekly sessions, followed by a ‘catch up session’ - primary school age group, secondary school age group and parent/carer group. Parents/carers completed pre- and post- programme questionnaires.
Results Nineteen parents/carers and children enrolled.
Results from evaluation:
73% of parents reported increase in their confidence levels and felt able to support their children more;
80% of parents reported feeling supported with the bereavement by attending the workshop;
73% of families felt decrease in isolation from attending the workshops.
‘I changed my status on Facebook to ‘widow’. Seems like a small thing, but it was a big thing for me and now I have strength to acknowledge my situation.’
‘P… is on his second week in his own room since my husband died. Just to be able to spread out in your own bed is amazing. The programme has been a major thing for us.’
Conclusion Time-limited sessions can have significant impact on a child’s ability to process their grief and lead to positive outcomes. Further programmes are recommended.
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