Helen Bashford, author of Perry Panda, has experience working in the mental health field, most recently as Carers Lead for a Mental Health Trust, providing support for families. In this article, Helen discusses the need to talk to children about mental health, and the benefits of drip feeding them information.
We have all heard it by now, that 1 in 4 people will experience mental illness at some point in their life. This statistic means that every child – every single one – will know someone experiencing mental ill health, if not now then in the future. There’s also a 25% chance they will become ill themselves. In families where a parent or sibling is ill, children have to live with the disruption mental illness can cause, and childhood is rife with issues such as bullying that can leave children vulnerable. Research now shows that half of all mental health problems are established by the age of 14, and 75% by the age of 24 (Mental Health Foundation). So, when we think about how to prevent mental illness we probably need to think about childhood.
Illustrator Emma Lindström talks us through how Robin and the White Rabbit came to be, and shares her process for creating the striking water colour and photo imagery that adorn the book.
Under a tree in the schoolyard, a lone child is sitting. They sit there looking at the others… all the while turning further and further away. The feelings are piling up around the child, but no one’s there to help the child reach through the wall of feelings that separates them from the other children. The child is told that they must play with the other children, that they should be involved in the world around them. But how do you do that? The only thing the child knows right now is that it is fairly safe to sit under the tree… But what if a white rabbit would show up? A soft and kind rabbit who you can hug and play with…
Hello, my name is Emma Lindström. I am a preschool teacher with several years of experience supporting children with special needs, now specialising in visual aid.
In the summer of 2015, I sat at a café with my new-found friend Åse. We met only a few days earlier, by chance at a picnic. Åse talked about her experiences with people in need of visual communication, and soon we started to discuss the importance of understanding the need for people to communicate in ways other than spoken language. I related to my experiences as a support teacher in preschool and Åse talked about the various projects she participated in and her experiences from Konstfack College of Arts. After a while we considered what it would be like to create a picture book that highlights visual communication. Continue reading
The heartbreaking motivation that compelled Åse Brunnström to find a way to help carers communicate visually with hard to reach children.
One day in 2009 sparked the inspiration for Åse and led her to investigate the different ways in which visual communication could be approached to help hard to reach children, dedicating her time to creating a universally accessible resource for the professionals, teachers and parents who would need it. The result was Robin and the White Rabbit, illustrated by Emma Lindström, a vital tool that helps children express and understand their thoughts and feelings through the use of visual communication cards.