Why I Wrote the
Children's Mental Health Series
I have two passions: 1) Writing and 2) Everything mental health related.
For years, I have personally struggled with severe, debilitating mental illness, and have seen family members struggle with it to varying degrees, as well. Throughout my struggles, myself and my caregivers/loved ones have experienced a great deal of stigma, ignorance, and isolation from others (i.e. friends, peers, family members, professionals) because others did not understand. They were not educated.
While education about mental illness does not necessarily mean a complete understanding of what those with mental illness and their loved ones experience, it is the first step towards a society that includes, accommodates and supports those who experience mental health challenges and/or mental illness and their loved ones.
A big part of my recent mental health advocacy work is my books.
In December 2015, I decided to combine my passions for mental health and writing, by using my personal experiences with mental illness as inspiration to write and publish a series of educational children’s books on various mental health topics including: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and ADHD. My hopes with my books was to make information related to a variety of mental health problems, coping strategies, treatment and accommodation strategies easily understandable and accessible to children, parents and educators, alike, so that children, peers, parents and educators could be educated to recognize the warning signs for possible mental health problems, how to cope, as well as how to support others.
For about a year, I collaborated with a number of professionals in different fields, from those in the mental health and education fields to those in the illustrating and editing fields to publish and make the Children’s Mental Health Series and free educational package an accessible and finished product.
Each book in the series has been vetted by a number of mental health care professionals, and has been endorsed by a registered social worker and by two Canadian psychiatrists, who are practicing in the field.
“Stories help to humanize mental illness. Reading about Zoey and Zack, children with anxiety and mood concerns are given a narrative that they can relate to. In particular, the books by Ms. Legault-Donkers emphasize that no child should be defined by their illness and that they are always going to be ‘bigger and stronger’ than the problems they face.”
– Dr. Javeed Sukhera, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Senior Designate Physician Lead, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, London Health Sciences Centre
Since the release of my books, I have received a great deal of positive feedback from readers, including parents, educators and professionals that utilize my books in their practices.
“When my nine year old son is feeling sad or negative about himself because of his ADD, he brings me your book and asks me to read it to him. He then feels better about himself because he has been reminded he is ‘the good kid he knows he is inside’ and he remembers he is also a ‘creative, energetic, silly and smart kid.'”
– Mother from Woodstock, ON