Children’s Books Ireland launches mental health and wellbeing reading guide for kids
This Saturday, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day.
It is a day where the focus is to not only talk more openly about mental health, but also normalise the idea that mental health is something we need to continuously work on, in much the same way as our physical health and wellbeing.
The global Covid-19 pandemic is, understandably enough, a source of worry for children and families across Ireland, and children and teens are having to cope with big changes at home and at school. In response to all this, and ahead of World Mental Health Day this weekend, Children’s Books Ireland, in partnership with Jigsaw and ISPCC Childline, has launched Mind Yourself – the Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide.
A recent UNICEF report found that children and young people in Ireland are struggling with their mental health, with Ireland placing 26th in the survey of 38 OECD countries when it comes to the mental wellbeing of children.
But we know books can provide comfort to readers during a difficult time and there is robust evidence to support this: reading for pleasure can have a positive effect on mental wellbeing, can build empathy in children and young people and is positively linked to better outcomes in later life.
The Mind Yourself reading guide is a resource that can be used by adults – parents, guardians, caregivers, teachers – to support and educate young people in relation to mental health and wellbeing.
The guide contains reviews and recommendations of over 400 books for children and young people from birth to age eighteen and is designed as a ‘first-aid kit’ for worries, sadness, loneliness, anxiety and any number of feelings that a young person may want to explore.
Mind Yourself also contains mental health and wellbeing information from Jigsaw and ISPCC Childline, including tips and coping strategies for young people and advice for adults on supporting children to build resilience.
"Mind Yourself was born in a pandemic and is published during an unprecedented time as children and young people return to school following a period of isolation," explains Elaina Ryan, CEO of Children’s Books Ireland.
"We want to recognise the very valid feelings that may arise during this time and to provide support for adults who may need a way to start a difficult conversation with a younger person, perhaps by reading a story aloud with them, by leaving a book on their bed with a note or by giving them this guide with a book token to find their own way through it. As always, we want our guides to enable children and young people – with the help of a family member, carer, teacher or librarian – to find the right book for them at a particular time, and if they’re struggling, to tóg sos le scéal or lighten the load with a book."
Speaking about the collaboration, Dr Joseph Duffy, CEO of Jigsaw, said:
"In Jigsaw we offer a listening ear, give expert mental health advice and support to young people, parents and guardians, and schoolteachers – and do our best to be there when young people need us most.
"But we know that there is always so much more that can be done. More young people we can reach. And to do so we need to work together as communities, as partners, and as friends. Working together with Children’s Books Ireland on Mind Yourself – The Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide is another creative way of doing this, of reaching and being there to support the mental health needs of even more young people across Ireland."
Caroline O’Sullivan, Director of Services for ISPCC Childline, said:
"ISPCC Childline is delighted to be included in Children’s Books Ireland’s Mind Yourself – The Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide and to provide guidance for children, young people and parents/carers on building resilience and looking after their mental health."
"Reading is an important activity for children and young people, it can provide an escape and allows our minds to be creative which can help in boosting our moods. Childline receives over 1,000 contacts a day every day from children and young people across Ireland on childline.ie and our volunteers help make sure every child and young person in Ireland always has somewhere they can turn."
The books recommended in Mind Yourself – The Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide cover the following issues:
- Understanding feelings and emotions
- Worry, stress and anxiety
- Fears and phobias
- Grief and loss
- Sadness, low mood and depression
- Relationship with self (self-esteem, loneliness, resilience, etc.)
- Relationships with others
- Life-long conditions (living with chronic illness and disabilities)
- Body image and body positivity
- Wellbeing (mindfulness, coping strategies, etc.)
Mind Yourself – The Mental Health and Wellbeing Reading Guide is available free of charge through every library authority in the Republic of Ireland. A digital version can be viewed or downloaded on www.childrensbooksireland.ie