No Worries for young people reading about mental health

A book encouraging children to talk about anxiety has been written by Edinburgh primary school parents as Children’s Mental Health Week launches across Scotland.

‘No Worries’ tells the tale of a group of primary school children going on school camp, each facing and overcoming their different anxieties. Each of the eight characters’ stories was developed by a parent drawing on their own experiences.

The parents, from Forthview Primary School, were helped in their venture through a series of writing workshops with author Mary Turner Thomson and used money from the school’s Pupil Equity Funding to publish the book with WhiteWater Publishing Ltd. 

The launch, which took place today (Monday 5 February) at the National Library of Scotland, was attended by Councillor Alison Dickie, Vice Convener of Education, Children and Families at the City of Edinburgh Council and Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney.

It was one of several events involving City of Edinburgh Council schools and young people across the Capital to highlight Children’s Mental Health Week. These include:

Pupils from St Catherine’s Primary School contributing to a short film on mental health and a singing workshop at Tynecastle High (both also supported by Place2Be) and a young people’s event exploring social anxiety and young people as part of the Council’s Growing Confidence programme.

Forthview parent, Yvonne Thompson, said: “Writing this book has been a positive experience for each of us, as mental health has an impact on ourselves, our families and within our community. We supported each other through the process of making this book and learnt about the process of writing a book, how we structure stories, use proper grammar and punctuation. 

“Writing the book has been somewhat therapeutic for some of us, as we thought about our own anxieties and how they affect us so that we can help our children deal with their worries - it was a great sense of achievement being able to help our children.”

Tracey Berry, Family Support Teacher at Forthview, helped co-ordinate the book project and was awarded an MBE in 2013 for her role in supporting families at the school.

She said: “At Forthview we are all very excited to have been part of this writing project. This book is really special and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working closely with this group of parents.

I’ve watched them grow in confidence as they have produced this wonderful book, written solely with the purpose of supporting their children and other children with a range of anxieties.”

Councillor Alison Dickie, Vice Convener of Education, Children and Families at the City of Edinburgh Council, said: “What a wonderful resource!  I’ve been really moved reading ‘No Worries’ as it uses simple language and scenarios that children understand to convey a crucial message about the importance of talking about our feelings and anxieties.

“As a former teacher, I understand how challenging it can be for young people to deal with their worries, and how alone they can feel.  This children’s book helps them to find their own voice and to have that first, sometimes very difficult, opening conversation.  All children should read this book!” 

Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education John Swinney said: “Pupil Equity Funding is empowering teachers to put in place creative new initiatives to tackle the attainment gap in their schools. 

“This is a great resource which starts to teach children how to handle anxiety in a way they can understand and relate to and I hope it will be put to good use. By giving our young people the right knowledge and understanding about emotional and mental wellbeing we can help to ensure important conversations about mental health become an everyday part of life.”

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