Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

Catholic Care provides a service to schools across the Leeds Diocese, the School’s, Children & Family Wellbeing Service. Death is a fact of life, as they say, yet the death of a loved one can have a devastating impact on our lives, especially those of children and young people. To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 2019 Owen Corrigan, a Senior Social Worker in the Service, talks about how he supports those experiencing this difficult et sadly not uncommon time.

Bereavement and Mental HealthOwen Corrigan, Senior Social Worker

Many children and young people have experienced the death of someone close to them. For some young people a major loss can be a source of significant disruption to their lives both in the short and long term. The notion that children/young people will “get over it” is misplaced as we often revisit the death of a loved one at all sorts of periods during our lives as the years unfold.

Bereaved young people may have different relationships with both peers and family members, they can be a source of support or additional problems.

Each bereavement is unique and there is no set timetable for grief and grief affects people in different ways. There is no right or wrong way to feel. Grief can take different forms; Grief and loss; Grief as a result of trauma; Prolonged grief/complicated grief.

There are 5 stages of grief:

  1. Denial/shock;
  2. Accepting the loss is real;
  3. Experiencing the pain of grief;
  4. Adjusting to life without the person who has died;
  5. Acceptance and hope.

The Catholic Care workers in our schools give the children and young people the time and space to work through the various stages of grief at their own pace, they help them to deal with the many feelings and strong emotions they may experience during the grieving process such as; Shock and numbness/first reaction; Overwhelming sadness/lots of crying; Tiredness and exhaustion; Anger, towards the person who has died, or their illness, or God; Guilt about feeling angry, something you should have done or said and didn’t, or not being able to help. All these strong emotions are perfectly normal.