Group creates children’s book to help kids cope with COVID-19
With help from her dragon, Ario, adolescent Sara learns to better understand the COVID-19 pandemic in a new children’s book titled My Hero Is You, How Kids Can Fight COVID-19!
The book was produced by more than 50 organizations, including WHO and UNICEF, and is a project of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee Reference Group on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (IASC MHPSS RG), a group of United Nations agencies, nongovernmental organizations and other members that was created to support guidelines on protecting people’s mental health during emergencies. The book is primarily aimed at children aged 6 to 11 years, according to WHO.
“These organizations ... realized, from their vast experience, the importance of explaining to children what is happening and what they can do when they are going through major changes to life as they know it,” Fahmy Hanna, MD, PhD, co-chair of the IASC MHPSS RG and a technical officer in WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Use, told Healio. “A book specifically aimed at children that could be translated into languages spoken around the world and adapted into different formats was thought to be ideal vehicle for that.”
According to the IASC MHPSS RG, a global survey was distributed in Arabic, English, Italian, French and Spanish to assess the mental health of children during the pandemic. More than 1,700 children, parents, caregivers and teachers from 104 countries participated.
“The book offers parents, caregivers and teachers the possibility of talking to children about COVID-19 and explaining in simple terms why their lives have changed and how they can protect themselves and others during the outbreak,” Hanna said. “It also provides an opportunity for children to ask questions that may be worrying them.”
Recently, the AAP offered tips to keep children occupied during the pandemic, which included a recommendation that parents have offline experiences with their children, specifically to help families connect emotionally and heal.
“We hope that the book will help children to better manage emotions like anxiety and sadness, not only during the COVID-19 outbreak, but beyond,” Hanna said. “The book explains how keeping in touch with family and friends, carrying on doing things you enjoy and spending time thinking about things that make you happy, can help children to keep positive during difficult times.”
The book has been translated into 13 different languages, with more than 25 more translations in the works. It is available online and in audio. – by Ken Downey Jr.
Disclosure: Hanna reports no relevant financial disclosures.