Written by teenager Emily Palmer, this information book is a much-needed introduction for young children to the concept of mental health issues, their effects and how they are treated. The language has been chosen carefully for its child-friendliness: being in poor mental health is described as ‘having a poorly brain’, therapists/counsellors as ‘special doctors’. Eggs have been used to illustrate the concepts in the book (eggs with cracked bandaged ‘heads’, the title ‘scrambled heads’ presumably referring to confusing emotions).
This illustrated book aims to support children who are suffering with their mental health. It would also be useful to their siblings, family, friends and classmates, and also to children of parents who are suffering with poor mental health.
This important book is a successful and child-friendly guide to mental health. This is not a slick, professionally illustrated picture book; it has more of a home-made information booklet feel to it. Perhaps something that a caring big sister might produce for a younger sibling, complete with felt-tip doodles. But this adds to its charm and authenticity. A great starting point for a conversation about mental health, and a means to reduce the stigma attached to mental illness.
The messages we found in this book:
- It can be frightening to have a mental health issue, and feel out of control of your thoughts and feelings.
- It is normal to feel sad if a loved one is suffering from poor mental health and it can be difficult to know what to do or say.
- People with mental health problems do not look unwell, which means it can be hard for others to be aware of how unwell they feel.
- People generally have a better understanding of/are more sympathetic towards physical health problems than mental ones.
- There are people you can talk to if you have a problem, such as friends, family, teachers and doctors. ‘Special doctors’ can help you to open up and be more aware of your thoughts and feelings.
- People who need extra care may receive this in a special hospital.
- It is a good idea to talk to others if you are worried about something or feel unwell.
- It is important to love yourself and others, whether you are in good or poor health.
- Having a mental health problem is nothing to be ashamed of.
- The book concludes with the message ‘together we are stronger’.
- If you were worried about something, who would you talk to?
- Paint or draw some faces on eggs. Give each face a different emotion (frightened, excited, worried, etc). When do you feel these emotions?
- Make a gift or a card for someone who is unwell with a supportive message.