Books to help children understand mental illness

WHEN Alison Smith was hospitalised due to bipolar five years ago, she wanted a way to explain it to her young grandson.

So in 2008 while she was being treated, she created five-year-old Professor Jake, who is the star of five “Stigma Buster” books about anxiety,

depression, bipolar, post traumatic stress and schizophrenia.

However, it was only recently that the books surfaced again after Ms Smith did her diploma of mental health and realised her writing could help other children too.

“I hadn’t thought about doing much with them,” Ms Smith said.

“But then I realised education is the greatest weapon in our fight against stigma.

“Kids really want simple, honest information.”

“No matter how fragile the parent, they must not disconnect from the world of the child.”

Ballarat Health Services Mental Health Services manager education and research Dr Julia Hailes said the booklets would help patients explain their illness and treatment to younger family members.

“This is a terrific project and will help many families who are experiencing mental illness,” Dr Hailes said.

The booklets will be available to all BHS Mental Health Services patients through their treating clinicians.

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