Phyllis Tuckwell’s Care Helps Children’s Mental Health

Phyllis Tuckwell’s Little Rays group includes therapeutic arts and crafts activities for the bereaved children of its patients

6th-12th February is Children’s Mental Health Week. Children’s mental health can be impacted by many things, one of which can be the illness and death of a loved one, especially someone who is important to that child and significant in their life.

Local hospice care charity Phyllis Tuckwell, which provides supportive and end of life care for local patients and families living with an advanced or terminal illness such as cancer, understands how the illness and death of a loved one can affect children. Its holistic approach to care ensures that its services are not purely limited to its patients, but support the whole family – husbands, wives, parents, siblings and children. It offers pre- and post-bereavement emotional and practical support to all family members of its patients, and its specialist team of bereavement counsellors can provide therapeutic support for children, through their parents or through 1:1 counselling.

The grieving process is a natural one, but it can be complicated by many factors, such as past loss, the relationship between the bereaved person and the person who has died, and the circumstances around the death. This can lead to a mixture of feelings which can be overwhelming and frightening, particularly for children, who may not have experienced these kinds of emotions before and whose primary carer may also be going through their own grieving process. Consequently, children may behave uncharacteristically, have difficulty engaging with social activities, and may regress in developmental behaviour and learning.

“The effects of bereavement will vary from one child to another, and our specialised team of bereavement counsellors can provide therapeutic support for children, should they need it,” said Maria Abellan, Patient, Family & Carer Support Team Manager at Phyllis Tuckwell. “This support can start at the earliest opportunity, either through the child’s parents or through 1:1 counselling with the child. We also offer therapeutic group support for primary-aged school children, through our bereavement group Little Rays.” Every day, Phyllis Tuckwell supports over 250 patients, relatives and carers – in their own homes, in the community, at the Hospice in Farnham and at the Beacon Centre in Guildford – through medical and nursing care, therapies, counselling, social work advice and practical support. To find out more about its care, please visit

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