When Should we Start Teaching Kids About Mental Health?

Laura Rowe

Most of us will experience mental health issues at some point in our lives. With this in mind, isn’t it essential that we start teaching coping mechanisms early?

The University’s society Open Minds helps students get to grips with mental health. Flying Eye Books, a children’s publisher, also believes in the importance of teaching children about mental health at a young age.

Last year, I had the privilege of being on the Open Minds committee, working closely with the team to train our volunteers to provide mental health education for students. While I was completing this training myself, I was able to speak with, and learn from, professors in psychology who told us that providing this support to children was super important.

There are ways and means. None of us are saying that we sit down with children and tell them the ins and outs of all the possible struggles they might face. But to gently introduce the topic and tell them they aren’t alone will go a long way to getting rid of a stigma that is detrimental to everyone.

Being an English literature student, I’m always convinced that books are the answer to everything. And Flying Eye Books seems to share this philosophy.

They told me that their books gently educate and provide children as young as toddlers with support systems. They range from more gentle stories about self-acceptance to helping children who are struggling with grief. By providing children with these stories, and by making it something they can talk about, we are ensuring that the next generation knows how to talk about mental health and we can remove some of the stigma.

None of these books should raise an eyebrow. We’re educating children about mental health but in a subtle and gentle way. The focus on empowerment and self-acceptance is key. It’s setting in place all the messages we need in later life to combat mental health issues.

Open Minds does incredible work, which I hope can be continued, and books like the ones published by Flying Eye Books can help to build a future where the mental health stigma is removed.