The rate of children diagnosed with mental health conditions has been rising, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 lockdowns (AAP). These conditions include depression, anxiety, and stress, which can be difficult to notice in children. Accessible mental health resources can help parents, teachers, friends, and even affected children themselves to recognize the symptoms of mental health disorders. Resources for marginalized communities are especially important; diverse and representative media can be hard to come by.
We Grow Together is a picture book for second through fifth graders with short stories that describe symptoms and coping mechanisms for anxiety, depression, and stress. It is important to note that children with these conditions can have a wide range of symptoms, but for simplicity the characters in these stories display only a few of the most common signs. The coping mechanisms included in the stories are supported by scientific literature and recommended by mental health professionals (CDC). In the story about anxiety, the character experiences an anxiety attack but is able to gradually relax through deep breathing exercises and listening to music. The character with depression has feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and exhaustion, but with his friend’s encouragement seeks help from a teacher. School-induced stress causes a third character to feel jittery and unable to relax, so her friend suggests that she take a break to unwind.
The stories involve diverse characters and familiar school settings to help children connect to the characters. The book is also a helpful resource for English language learners as it contains a side-by-side Spanish translation of the text. A list of mental health organizations and resources in Iowa is also provided at the end of the book. We Grow Together is currently used by guidance counselors at Kirkwood Elementary School in Iowa City.
Keywords: health equity, mental health, children's book
How to Cite:
Holland, I. R. & Tran, L. & Karthik, S., (2023) “We Grow Together / Crecemos Juntos: A Children’s Book about Mental Health”, Synthesis: A Digital Journal of Student Science Communication 4(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/2643-8410.31734