CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE'S PROGRAM
Australian Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing (1999)
The 1999 evaluation conducted by the Australian Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing found that Seasons for Growth
• reduced the sense of isolation for participants (increased resilience)
• built participant's self-esteem
• assisted participants to create networks of support (increased community connectedness)
• was an early intervention strategy against youth suicide
• was regarded enthusiastically by the management of schools and agencies in which it is being offered
South Australian Department of Human Services
Seasons for Growth was evaluated in South Australian Primary Schools by the South Australian Community Health Research Unit (SACHRU), at Flinders University. Of the 12 schools (30% of which identified as being disadvantaged) participating in the evaluation;
• 86% of children responded positively to the program's learning outcomes:
1. it is normal for life to change
2. I am more confident about seeking support
3. I am able to cope better
4. I can talk about feelings more freely
Comments from the children included;
"Bad things won't last forever"
"I can make choices and decisions"
"(I learned) how to cope with feelings and not to bottle my anger up"
• 80% of parents rated Seasons for Growth as good, very good or better in assisting children in coping with change and loss.
• 87% of teachers and Companions agreed that Seasons for Growth assisted students to deal with loss. They stated that Seasons for Growth was seen to assist students by:
- providing tools, strategies and building blocks
- normalising the feelings experienced by students
- acknowledging grief and loss in the school environment
The University of Melbourne (2005)
A national evaluation of Secondary Schools released by the University of Melbourne, with funding from the Telstra Foundation, found that Seasons for Growth;
• creates a safe place thereby building trust within the group
• provides participants with an opportunity to unburden themselves of thoughts and feelings
• teaches participants that they are not alone
• reduces participants' isolation and develops their concern for other people
• gives hope through the concept of "cycle of the seasons"
• teaches participants to express themselves
Mental Health Association, NSW (2010)
Dr Deanna Pagnini examined the impact of Seasons for Growth on participants who had experienced significant mental health issues. Findings from the evaluation were very positive.
Over 85% of participants felt that Seasons for Growth improved these aspects of their lives;
• acceptance of letting go of past issues of change, loss and grief
• coping with current issues of change, loss and grief
• understanding of the recovery journey, eg resilience and empowerment
Over 70% experienced significant improvements in their experience of;
• overall mental health
Participants overwhelmingly reported feeling less isolated, having increased self awareness and feeling better about themselves.
"I am much more able to understand where I am after recent huge losses. I am more accepting of where I am and - the best difference - I am not doing unhealthy or destructive things to mask my feelings. I'm better able to understand where strong feelings fit into the process".
University of Central Queensland (2008)
With funding from the Department of Health and Ageing, Dr Cecily Knight and Dr Delwyn Goodrick examined the impact the program had on participants and in what ways it assisted them to manage grief and loss.
Benefits that the participants reported included:
• feeling better equipped to prepare for and deal with grief
• increased self awareness
• feeling empowered to go forward and move beyond a difficult past
• increased ability to manage difficult situations
• being aware and accepting of own needs
• learning a lot about themselves
• reducing their stress levels
96% of the participants reported having learned how to work through grief and loss.
"It didn't just help me with the past. It is helping me with the future as well. I was blessed to be able to let go of resentment that I had held onto for many, many years. I developed tools that helped my recovery."
Carers NSW (2004)
As part of the Carer's Mental Health Program, and funded by NSW Health, Carers NSW evaluated the Seasons for Growth Adult Program. The results were almost unanimously positive. Key benefits to participants were:
• becoming more in touch with their feelings
• confronting painful issues/dealing with grief and loss
• learning how to cope better.
The most important things participants learned centered around forgiving themselves, letting go, and "not beating themselves up" over not being perfect.
By the end of the program, the majority of the participants reported significantly lower levels of tension in their relationship with the person they are caring for.
"Overall, I feel more competent, therefore more confident and this is already benefiting my family". Carer, 53 years old.