GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) – CHI Health reached out to schools across the state this week to provide them with books to help teach younger kids how to talk about mental health. Local schools said it’ll be a helpful addition to their programs.
The book is called “A New Norm” about a little boy who can’t get rid of the cloud over his head. It is a simple way for younger kids to learn about complex things like anxiety and depression and learn how to cope with them.
“The book was really to show kids that it’s normal sometimes some kids feel this way and that they can express it and seek help and that there is a light or a spark at the end of the tunnel,” said Tina Ames, VP of Marketing and Communications at CHI Health.
CHI Health provided 3,000 books to elementary and middle schools across the state. They hope with teachers and students having access to them it can start the conversation about mental health.
“This gives us an opportunity to open a conversation with kids and help them understand what they’re feeling, what they might be dealing with is normal,” Ames said.
She also said depression in children is no different than it is in adults, but adults have more context and ways to identify their feelings. That is why Grand Island Public Schools begins their discussions as early as preschool with their second step program.
“We have found in our district that the younger that we start with these kids it’s like you can get to the root of the problem hopefully before it balloons and it starts to be such an issue that they’re at a point where it’s overwhelming,” Alternative Education Social Worker Dawn Deuel-Rutt said.
In elementary school they focus on feelings and how to calm down as well as empathy and sharing. Teachers also benefit from the books that include discussion guides and ways to identify if a student is in need of professional help.
“Any time they’re struggling they can come to us and when they find the skills they have aren’t really working or they’re not enough then they also know that we are there to help with not just math and science but help them with any area that they need help with,” Deuel-Rutt said.
They hope with teaching about mental health in an age-appropriate way they can be taught how to manage it better as they reach their teen years.
Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.