As rates of diagnosed mental health issues in children continue to soar globally, the question of how to equip our youngest generations with the tools to understand, manage, and thrive becomes ever more pertinent. Research has shown that 22% of children in the UK aged 7-16 suffer from a mental health disorder, which could be anything from PTSD to anxiety.
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We’ve seen a rise in these issues since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, as issues that may have previously gone unnoticed were able to surface during lockdown and other issues may be the result of lockdown itself.
A Rise In Issues
There are a number of issues that appear to have become increasingly common in children and young people, and the most prominent include:
One of the most concerning trends is the increasing rate of anxiety in children. Anxiety can manifest as intrusive thoughts, physical symptoms, and avoidance of situations that elicit fear or distress. It can also lead to social isolation and difficulty in school.
Many children are also struggling with depression, which is often characterized by low moods, lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed, changes in sleep and appetite, feelings of worthlessness, and difficulty concentrating.
Children may also have difficulty with regulation and impulse control, leading to disruptive or aggressive behaviors. These issues can affect social relationships and school performance and can be difficult to manage without proper intervention.
Traumatic events, such as physical or sexual abuse, can have a long-lasting impact on a child’s mental health. Trauma can lead to changes in mood and behavior, as well as difficulty with trust and relationships.
Sadly, substance abuse is becoming an increasingly common issue among young people and can lead to a range of mental health issues. Substance abuse can cause changes in mood, difficulty concentrating, and an increased risk for depression and anxiety.
Books For Mental Health Awareness
A growing awareness of the rise of mental health issues has seen a marked increase in children’s literature designed to target and address these concerns, and here at Dialogue Books, we have put together some of the best options. Here are some of the key books we are spotlighting:
“The Invisible String” by Patrice Karst
A reassuring book that explores themes of separation anxiety, and reassures children that they are never truly alone in the world.
“A Terrible Thing Happened” by Margaret M. Holmes
This book subtly addresses the subject of trauma and PTSD, and is ideal for children who have witnessed violence or experienced a distressing event.
“The Huge Bag of Worries” by Virginia Ironside
A beautifully illustrated tale that helps children understand that it’s okay to feel worried, and which provides practical strategies to manage anxiety.
“When Sadness Is at Your Door” by Eva Eland
A gentle exploration of depression that encourages children to acknowledge their feelings and seek support.
“The Princess and the Fog” by Lloyd Jones
An engaging story that presents childhood depression in a relatable way, emphasizing that it’s okay to ask for help.
“What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid’s Guide to Overcoming Anxiety” by Dawn Huebner
A practical guide for children to manage their anxieties, full of easy-to-understand strategies and solutions.
“Wilma Jean the Worry Machine” by Julia Cook
A fun and insightful story about a worry-filled girl, providing kids with tools to handle stress and anxiety.
“Outsmarting Worry: An Older Kid’s Guide to Managing Anxiety” by Dawn Huebner
This book is specifically designed for pre-teens and teens dealing with anxiety, offering cognitive-behavioral techniques to help them understand and manage their worries.
“Hey Warrior” by Karen Young
An empowering book that explains what happens in the brain during anxiety, equipping children with the knowledge to manage their feelings.
“The Boy Who Built a Wall Around Himself” by Ali Redford
A touching story about trauma and the power of kindness and compassion.
“Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anytime, Anywhere” by Kira Willey
This book is packed with mindfulness exercises that can help children handle strong emotions, relax, and focus.
“I Am Peace: A Book of Mindfulness” by Susan Verde
A calming book that encourages children to connect with the world around them and find inner peace.
Sophie Andrea, the founder of Dialogue Books, believes that literature can play a transformative role in this societal challenge. She says, “Books have a magical way of fostering understanding, empathy, and resilience. By carefully curating a collection of children’s books addressing mental health, we aim to demystify these issues, offer comfort, and empower children to navigate their emotional landscapes.”
While the rise of mental health issues is an ongoing concern, there is hope that open communication, greater awareness, and an increase in funding can help to turn the tide – and this is a change that all relies on pulling together to remove the stigma, and help children take back their power.