The Perfect Book For Children's Mental Health Week
To close this year’s Children’s Mental Health Week, our Head of Marketing and Communications, Ms. Duhaney, interviewed Mrs. Peck, a Religious Studies Teacher, to discuss her new book that encourages children to share their thoughts and feelings.
You can order 'You Can Tell Me Anything, now on franciscanpublishing.com. Proceeds are donated to EducAid, a charity that runs an educational network of free schools and school improvement projects, working on gender equality and improving community resilience based in Sierra Leone.
Mrs. Peck: I'm Mrs. Peck, I teach Religious Studies here at St Mary's. As an author, this is the third book that I have published, it has been a major project. The book is called ‘You Can Tell Me Anything' and it's an illustrated poem. Like my first book, it is for younger children around age four. I wrote it originally for my own daughter who is now eight. My husband and I felt it was really important that she always knew she could tell us anything, so that's where the poem came from. The message has become woven into our family in a way, sometimes she even quotes it back to me! As parents we try to create a safe environment so our children feel they can be honest and open no matter the circumstance. We want our daughter to know that we will try to be very forgiving, and we are always going to love her. So, that is the poem's message.
Ms. Duhaney: You wanted your daughter to internalise that she can be very open and tell you any and everything. Why do you feel this is so important for children and their mental health?
Mrs. Peck: I personally think that everyone pretty much is born with this need. To paraphrase Kurt Thompson, ‘we come into the world wanting to be known and wanting to be loved.’ If we don't have somebody who knows us and loves us, we can suffer. Obviously, there are many causes of mental health issues, but one is that people just feel alone – a problem shared is a problem halved is a cliche for a reason.
The book promotes the messages: I love you; I want to know you and I want to know what you're thinking. It helps parents ask their child ‘what is in your heart?’ and enables their daughter or son to feel safe to express themself, whether it’s good or bad.
There are questions like, ‘tell me what you're wishing, tell me what you're like, tell me what you daydream about’ and ‘tell me what you hope for in life and I'm not going to laugh at you for it whatever it is’.
Ms. Duhaney: The book seems a good facilitator for parents who would like to check in with their child and build a positive foundation for conversations about mental health.
Mrs. Peck: I hope that parents feel like that about it because it's sometimes hard to find the words. So hopefully this book supports them in planting the seed of ‘you can tell me anything’. In the book there are examples like ‘if you've broken a toy, if you’ve scribbled on a page, or if you've upset one of your friends you can tell me’. They are small scenarios but are really meaningful things for young children.
Ms. Duhaney: Donations to a charity will be made for each purchase of your book. Can you share some information about the charity and cause the proceeds will be supporting?
Mrs. Peck: EducAid is a charity that runs schools and school improvement projects in Sierra Leone. They started small, a lady called Miriam set up a school with her team which has now increased to a hub of schools, with 150 students in each in those schools. Educate also does teacher training to support other schools and school improvement projects, and they've even had some of their own students become teachers – so it’s a cycle of education.
Ms. Duhaney: The book not only promotes a very important message in such an unitimitading way, it is also so beautifully illustrated. So, lastly, where can we purchase your book?