Mindful Millie and Sad Simon: Mental Health is no Longer an Adult Conversation

By OneMoreLightLB - January 27, 2019

Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this review and this review does not contain affiliate links (I do not receive payment if you click on them and make a purchase). I was gifted these books for reviewing purposes and attest that this review is my honest opinion.

When I told a colleague I was going to be reviewing a children's book on Clinical Depression and mental health, he was openly shocked. He expressed his uncertainty at the suitability of those subjects for children, and remained unconvinced when we chatted further about it.

After all, to many people “mental health” seems to be synonymous with graphic conversations about people harming themselves in some way, or of the kind of abject misery that should never be mentioned near children.

The thing is, until these attitudes are ironed out of society we will struggle to have an open discussion about mental health. Albert Einstein* famously said that if you can't explain something simply, then you don't understand it; if we can't explain mental health and mindfulness to children, then we don't truly get it as a society.

*it's debated whether or not this can actually be attributed to him.

We all have mental health, and we are never too young to experience mental ill health. When I look back to a very young age I recognise a lot of experiences and symptoms that were rooted in the mental health issues that grew into my teenage and adult life. The first time I was fully aware of how bad I felt was at 11 years old. Perhaps if we had talked about our emotions and mindfulness back then, I would have understood the chapters that came next in my life instead of fearing them. Perhaps those chapters would have been written differently.

We recognise the importance of physical health in children, and give mandatory P.E lessons throughout school, so why are we scared to broach the subject of mental health with them?

Mindful Millie and Sad Simon are a wonderful antidote to this reluctance to talk to children about the importance of mental well-being. The simple and powerful message and the beautiful illustrations make what can seem like a scary topic seem natural and entirely age-appropriate.

In Mindful Millie, we meet (you guessed it) Millie, an elephant that practises mindfulness. I'll admit that as an adult I myself have often struggled to understand the concept of mindfulness despite it being recommended to me often as a coping mechanism for anxiety, so it's great to have a resource that introduces it at such a young age. I would say that some base understanding of mindfulness is required before reading this to children, as it focuses more on guiding the child through mindfulness rather than explaining the concept itself.

In Sad Simon, we meet Millie's friend Simon the Bassett Hound and explore how sometimes he feels sad and doesn't want to play with friends. It guides the reader through how Simon might sleep or eat more or less than usual, and how important it is to talk to your friends and family about how you feel. When Simon meets Millie, she teaches him about mindfulness and how to use it to improve your mental well-being. Despite lacking the clear ending and author/illustrator information given in Mindful Millie, Sad Simon holds a truly valuable message about our feelings and the importance of reaching out to loved ones.

What I really loved about these books is how interactive they are. They ask the children to list the things that have made them happy, to draw pictures of their favourite things and take part in a mindfulness "body scan". Most importantly it normalises the idea that it's okay not to feel happy all of the time, and it's okay not to know how you're feeling.

I really loved these books and I think they're a great idea. If you're not familiar with mindfulness before reading to your child, you can find information here. A great added bonus is that the author, Louise Tribble is educated to degree level in Education and Early Childhood studies, so you can tell a lot of thought has gone into this with regards on what's best for children being introduced to these concepts.

The artist, Rhiannon Thomas makes beautiful illustrations and make these books truly special.

You can purchase Mindful Millie and Sad Simon here, and make sure to check out the Mindful Millie website!

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  1. Good post but I was wondering if you could write a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Appreciate it! Mindful


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