Bereavement findings published at Magee

Megan Kelly (18 years old), Youthlife volunteer. Picture Martin McKeown.
Megan Kelly (18 years old), Youthlife volunteer. Picture Martin McKeown.

The findings of research carried out into how young people cope with loss, bereavement and separation was published at the University of Ulster, Magee campus, on Wednesday.

The research was conducted by Youthlife and completed through the ‘Science Shop’ at Ulster University into the ‘Growing Through Change’ residential programme.

Thirty participants, 17 males and 13 females, with an average age of 13 years participated in the study, while a sub-sample of six, three males and three females, with an average age of 13 years participated in the qualitative study.  

Discussing the findings of the research Bridie Sheridan, Director, Youthlife said: “Youthlife have been working with children and young people in the community for 22 years and we recognise that loss is a big issue in young people’s lives. 92% of young people in the UK experience loss of a significant relationship before their 16th birthday. This includes five per cent of children who experience the death of parent before the age of 15 and a third of children who lose the family life they once knew when parents separate.

Stephen Clarke, who conducted the research as part of an MSc in Applied Psychology said: “The study measured anxiety and depression symptoms pre and post-intervention, using the Revised Child Anxiety and Depression Scale (RCADS).

“The results showed that the intervention group experienced a significant reduction in anxiety and depression symptoms, whilst a waiting list control group, who did not take part in the ‘Growing Through Change’ programme, showed no change in their anxiety and depression symptoms during the study.

“The findings highlight how useful interventions can be in helping young people who are experiencing difficulties associated with bereavement or loss.

“Whilst many young people manage loss and bereavement without the need for extra support, grief may contribute to psychological distress in others. 

“For example, bereavement in adolescence has been associated with depressive symptoms, anxiety, anger, difficulties concentrating in school, behavioural problems, low self-esteem, and isolation. 

“Therefore, interventions such as Youthlife’s ‘Growing Through Change’ programme may be of benefit to young people at risk of such difficulties.”

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