I have several mother friends struggling with depression so when I found out about the recently published storybook, My Mum has Depression, I knew it was a resource that I wanted to share with my kids. We found it remarkably easy to read, with practical examples about what depression feels like which the children could understand and remember. I highly recommend this book to all parents who want to start a conversation with their kids around the subject of depression, whether they have someone in the immediate family who is facing it or not.
Depression and, unfortunately, suicide are subjects that children will eventually become exposed to as they are highly prevalent in society. I believe it is helpful to discuss these topics while children are still young so that they begin to understand them with parental guidance, whereas finding out on their own through media or other children may be confronting or confusing. My uncle took his life almost five years ago and it has been difficult for me to explain to my kids the reason why until we read this book together.
The book itself is not long and provides analogies which are helpful to young children as well as older ones. Though it does not go into the particulars of depression, it provides space for a conversation to happen about these details if your children want to know more.
Today I’m sharing an interview with the author of My Mum has Depression, Nina Mitchell.
Why did you write My Mum Has Depression?
I’ve always talked about my depression with my sons. I was surprised when I learned that a good friend of mine hadn’t told her children she also experienced depression. I thought it was normal to share this information with our children but apparently some parents find it a difficult subject to share.
Children are remarkably perceptive. They may recognise that something is wrong with their Mum and somehow think they are to blame. If we have conversations with our children about mental illnesses, even from an early age, they have a greater chance of understanding and even helping the adults around them.
My sons sometimes recognise when I am struggling. A kiss or cuddle from one of them can be more powerful than any of the anti-depressants that I take.
How do you think the book helps kids understand depression?
My Mum has Depression provides examples for children of what depression may feel like, in a language that they can understand. My favourite picture in the book shows how Mum “sometimes feels heavy as if she’s being weighed down by invisible chains that have locked tightly around her”.
Do you think it’s valuable for kids to read the book even if it’s not their mother, but say another relative, who has depression?
I think it’s useful for children to read the book, no matter who it is they know who may be living with depression. It could be a relative, a friend, even a sibling. I wrote the book to help adults start the conversation with the children in their lives.
Are there any other resources for families facing depression which you can recommend?
I recently came across some of the excellent resources that COPMI provide free of charge for children of parents with mental illness. They can be ordered from their website. I would have used them with my children if I’d known about them earlier.
Order the Book
My Mum has Depression can be purchased here. It costs $15 per book with a postage and handling fee of $5.
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I was sent a copy of My Mum has Depression to review for this post. All opinions are my own. To read more about sponsorship on my website, visit this page.