Abstract / Introduction
This article describes a pilot qualitative research study, exploring the impact of bereavement experiences, on pre-qualifying social work students in two UK Universities with diverse demographics. The research study took place in the context of general concern about the mental health of UK University students and suggests that social work students may be at particular risk of developing emotional wellbeing issues linked to bereavement. Interviews followed a free association narrative technique, with analysis of the data highlighting four main themes. Firstly, bereavement is associated with practical problems which may trigger wellbeing issues. Secondly, there is an increased need for specific bereavement training and support to be embedded within social work programmes, alongside skills and knowledge of cultural diversity and the part this plays in the bereavement process. Lastly, the study demonstrated that bereavement experiences are not isolated but linked to other losses and therefore students may need effective support to process these before they can effectively support others. The study appears to be distinctive in its focus on the impacts of bereavement on social work students and has significant implications for the ways in which students are supported by social work education programmes, as well as paving the way for further research in this area.