Australian author’s mission to help kids understand mental health - Education Matters Magazine
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Australian author’s mission to help kids understand mental health

Dr Monika Schott is on a mission to teach Aussie kids about mental health, publishing her book My Dad built me the best and wackiest cubby ever to provide them with an accessible avenue to understand mental illness on their terms.

Mental illness in Aussie kids is rapidly on the rise with the Australian Psychological Society in 2022 reporting children aged 6-12 years showed a sharp rise in mental illnesses, with some of the largest increases including Social Anxiety Disorder (45%) and ADHD (42%).

Most parents and teachers struggle to broach the topic of mental health with children, as it can be challenging to address these subjects as adults, let alone talk to children about them.

Coinciding with Mental Health Month (celebrated each year in the month of October in NSW), the launch of My Dad built me the best and wackiest cubby ever aims to explain mental illness on their terms.

The story revolves around a child and their father as they navigate the father’s mental health challenges, simultaneously serving as a valuable resource for Australian teachers seeking guidance on discussing mental health with children.

The book is accompanied by resources for teachers, carers and families to draw upon, and is available in full-colour or black and white as a paperback or e-book.

The idea came from Monika’s own experiences with her family around mental health. When her children were young, she had to try to explain a family member’s behaviour they were witnessing. There were no resources to assist her which propelled her to write her book.

“It’s my hope that the book can go some way in helping to give children, teachers and families new understanding about mental health, belief that even in grey and darkness, there is always hope and magic that’s only covered over,” she said.

My Dad built me the best and wackiest cubby ever is a book for everyone. For teachers and carers, it will provide guidance on how to talk to children about mental illness, a subject which is often difficult for even adults to understand. For children, not only is it a tender story about a father and child and their cubbyhouse, but it offers a simple way for kids to learn about mental illness in a way that they will understand.”

Told through the eyes of a child, the chapter book is a gentle interpretation of what Monika has observed within her own family, and is ideal for children aged 5-12 years. The book is accompanied by resources for teachers, carers and families to draw upon, and is available in full-colour or black and white as a paperback or e-book.

Leading psychiatrist and professor of Youth Mental Health at the University of Melbourne, Professor Pat McGorry said as a parent, he wished he had this book many years ago.

“There is still a lot of stigma around mental illness but things are definitely getting better. Twenty years ago, we wouldn’t have seen a book like this. But every one of us will have somebody in our family that will suffer from periods of poor mental health, and Monika’s book is a way for younger children to learn about mental illness in a very optimistic and positive way,” he said.

The book can be purchased via Amazon, Booktopia, Barnes & Noble and other e-retailers or direct from Monika Schott at www.monikaschott.com for $25.00 (colour paperback) or $15.00 (black and white).

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