Grief education and bereavement support in schools needed for student mental health, says Mathison

Alliance Education spokesperson Nick Mathison MLA has said that ‘change is needed’ with regards to how bereavement support and grief education is dealt with in our schools.

Education Nick Mathison

He was speaking after sponsoring a Marie Curie Child Grief Awareness Event at Parliament Buildings to mark Children’s Grief Awareness Week 2023. During the event, a number of different speakers highlighted the importance of breaking down the taboo of death in our schools and ensuring peers, teachers and families can best support children and young people who experience a bereavement.


The Strangford MLA has said: “Today was a fantastic opportunity to hear from the experts about how and why grief education should be included formally in the school curriculum.


“Although death and grief are things we typically associate with great sadness, the work that has been done by Marie Curie and their partners is incredibly positive. Their School Bereavement Programme helps to break down the taboo of grief and death. It helps children to be informed, in an age-appropriate manner, about death, dying and bereavement and helps to build resilience if they were to ever potentially experience bereavement themselves.


“Alliance is fully supportive of Marie Curie’s call for grief education to be included formally in the school curriculum in Northern Ireland. We talk so often about the importance of early intervention in many different policy areas, and the creation and promotion of safe spaces to talk about death and grief in schools will undoubtedly play a role in preventing further mental heath difficulties for children and young people who are impacted by grief at a young age.


“I would like to give special credit to the young people who took part in the event and shared their experiences of grief and bereavement support in schools. It is absolutely vital that their voices are heard.”