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Exploring Mental Health in Children’s Publishing

By Joanne Boustead, Michaela O’Callaghan and Aimee Haldron

With 1 in 4 people experiencing a mental health problem every year in England, it is important for us to develop ways to talk about and cope with these conditions. But when it comes to children, approaching this topic can be difficult. As the years go by, childhood is becoming more and more challenging, with extra pressure being placed on children to do more and be more. With emotions often running high, there is a plethora of books and resources children can turn to when experiencing tough times and for parents to use to help start a discussion.

Looking After Your Mental Health by Louie Stowell and Alice James

Published in 2018 by Usborne, Looking After Your Mental Health gives practical advice on mental health. Full of accessible information and handy diagrams, this guide to mental health helps children explore different mental health conditions, as well as emotions and what might influence them. A range of topics are covered throughout the book, such as relationships, toxic friendships and managing your mental health whilst being active on social media. Looking After Your Mental Health was written with advice from the Royal College of Psychiatrists and provides plenty of tools for children to use every day.

The Worrysaurus by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Chris Chatterton

This is a lovely rhyming picture book from Orchard Books. It follows a little worrysaurus who is excited for all the fun things he has planned. However, he is ‘one to overthink’ and soon his worries and concerns put a damper on his trip. He doesn’t like unexpected happenings so when he finds out that there will be a storm, he begins to worry. I really love how this picture book illustrates the feeling of butterflies in your stomach as you begin to dread something and overthink. This is a cute tale about how the worrysaurus manages to calm his busy brain.

My Monster and Me by Nadiya Hussain and illustrated by Ella Bailey

Nadiya Hussain is not only a star baker, but also writes excellent picture books exploring topics such as, anxiety and self-love in a sensitive and touching way. When you combine her writing with the beautifully pared down and careful illustrations of Ella Bailey, you know you are in for a treat! My Monster and Me is the first picture book by Hussain and follows a child as she learns to control and manage the monster (anxiety) through opening up and talking to others about her worries. Her second book explores the topic of bullying, whilst her third book – which has recently been published in hardback – looks at how important it is to be yourself, no matter how different you believe you are from others.

Create Your Own series by Becky Goddard-Hill

This series is from parent blogger Becky Goddard-Hill. These illustrated activity books offer simple steps children can take towards becoming happier, calmer and kinder. Packed full of ideas that can be done individually or with others, these activity books are a great way to bring a bit of mindfulness into a child’s day to day life. From creating kindness jars to making a happy playlist, there is such a fun mix of activities that will help shape a child’s self-esteem and positive outlook. Becky Goddard-Hill also has a teen guide on happiness for the older age group which is also published by Collins.

ABC of Feelings by Bonnie Lui

Trigger Publishing are well known for their range of mental health and wellbeing books, and their selection of children’s books is a brilliant addition to any child’s bookshelf. Created with young readers in mind, ABC of Feelings allows children to work through an alphabet of feelings and emotions. From anxious and overwhelmed to grateful and brave, this delightfully illustrated picture book will get your child vocalising their true feelings in no time!

Our Kids in Mind Podcast by Jessica Kingsley Publishers

This new podcast created by Jessica Kingsley Publishers (JKP) will run alongside the release of a new book How to Have Incredible Conversations with Your Child by Jane Gilmour and Bettina Hohnen, who will also be hosting the podcast. The podcast will have new episodes released every Thursday and will feature topics such as creative ways to support young people and thriving with neurodiversity to name a few, as well as guest appearances from JKP authors who work in the field of young people’s mental health. Hopefully this will become a great resource for adults to listen to and help them understand their children’s mental health and what they can do to help.

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