Reverend Kathryn Darby is the Chaplain at Birmingham Children’s Hospital and co-author with Paul Nash and Sally Nash of Spiritual Care with Sick Children and Young People.
In this blog, she explores the roles chaplains play for sick children and young people who are staying in hospices or hospitals.
How can we attune to the spiritual and religious needs of children and young people in a hospital or hospice context? This question was recently sharpened for me in my role as a chaplain at the Birmingham Children’s Hospital when in conversation with a young person receiving treatment for mental health. He said words to the effect of, “You just get into that headspace where you don’t matter, you don’t deserve anything”. The need for all of us to attend to our mental health has been highlighted in British society recently – e.g. the grieving and recovery process of Princes William and Harry in relation to their mother’s death and debate within the political arena about mental health provision. No one is invulnerable to the stresses and bruising of life that can result from illness, bereavement, or loss. At times, mental health issues, such as anxiety, low mood, or eating disorders can escalate for young people leading to hospital care. Young people and their families experience distress, suffering and heartache but can find the support that they need for recovery and growth. Continue reading