Next week is Children’s Mental Health Week. It has been set up by the children’s mental health charity, Place2Be, with the theme ‘Find Your Brave’.
Never has it been more important for us to focus on and take care of children’s mental health. According to research carried out last year by Place2Be, “56% of children and young people say they worry “all the time” about at least one thing to do with their school life, home life or themselves”.
But what can we do to help them ‘find their brave’?
I am a picture book author, but first and foremost I am a parent. In my experience, one of the most important ways you can help children in all aspects of their lives, is to talk with them in a safe, supportive and non-judgemental environment.
With younger children, this is where picture books can be invaluable. We live in a real golden era of children’s literature. In any given book shop or library, you will find a treasure trove of high-quality picture books, many of which address serious issues in a sensitive and child-friendly way.
Over the next few years, we are likely to see a huge increase in the number of children’s books focussed upon mental health and emotional wellness. In fact, my debut picture book, Superheroes Don’t Get Scared, is being published by a brand-new publishing imprint, Ups¡de Down Books, which has been launched specifically to produce high-quality children’s books focussing on mental health and wellness issues.
These stories help children to see that they are not alone in feeling frightened, that other children (or, in some cases, dinosaurs and superheroes!) feel scared too. This is not only incredibly reassuring for children, but it provides their grown-ups with an opportunity to talk with them about the issues raised in the story.
What does ‘brave’ mean?
Children can have an unrealistic idea of what it means to be brave. They may think that it means doing great heroic deeds and never feeling scared, whereas in reality what amounts to ‘being brave’ is different for everyone.
Picture books can, again, help children to see that ‘bravery’ comes in all shapes and sizes, but it is also vital that grown-ups talk with children honestly about this issue.
Place2Be has some useful conversation tips on their website.
Why not cosy up with your favourite ‘brave’ picture book and give them a go?
Additional information about Children’s Mental Health Week can be found here: Place2Be
Additional information about Ups!de Down Books and Trigger Publishing can be found here: Trigger Publishing
Proceeds from all Trigger Publishing and Ups¡de Down Books go directly to The Shaw Mind Foundation, a global charity that focuses entirely on mental health. Additional advice can be found on their website: Shaw Mind Foundation
Superheroes Don’t Get Scared, written by Kate Thompson and illustrated by Clare Elsom will be published in the UK in September 2020.