A hidden crisis lurks beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, one that could impact society for generations to come if not efficiently managed, yet is largely neglected. The crisis in question is the millions of children and young people facing mental wellness issues during the lockdown with no professional support readily available.
Parents and teachers are calling for help with this potentially worsening concern, a call that is being answered by a London-based mental-wellness startup providing free learning resources to empower learners and their educators to use impactful interventions and explore their mental health.
Book of Beasties Limited, is a UK-based multi-award winning developer of children’s mental health games and resources, founded by Phil Tottman and Tom Dryland.
Both experienced issues with their mental health from a young age, resulting in it becoming a personal mission of theirs to ensure the young people of today had to access to fun and playful resources that introduced them to what is a complex and admittedly taboo subject.
The company’s debut resource, Book of Beasties: The Mental Wellness Card Game is targeted at primary school children and empowers them to talk about their emotions and mental health.
The game has been fully endorsed by psychologists, accredited by the University of West London and is currently being used in more than 100 schools across the world.
Professor of Psychology at the University College of Dublin, Dr. Tony Bates, commented on the game: “[Book of Beasties] has brought the language to mental health that makes it accessible for young people. And rather than make symptoms the ‘bad guys’, which is what normally happens, presented them as ‘beasties’, each with their own needs and fears, and each needing compassion and comfort rather than trying to ‘get rid of them’.
“I really think the Book of Beasties is a revolutionary approach and it will change how young people think about their mental health for the rest of their lives.”
Researchers from The University of West London’s Human and Social Sciences school completed a successful pilot study looking into the effectiveness of the Book of Beasties’ playful learning methods and approach to mental wellness. This has laid the groundwork for a much wider research project and ongoing collaboration on BoB’s intervention innovations.
Dr. Michelle Jayman and Dr. Annita Ventouris who conducted the study noted that parents, school staff and the children receiving the intervention found Book of Beasties to be a beneficial resource with regards to “increasing emotional literacy, and improved overall subjective well being.” [ New Vistas Magazine, 2020 – https://uwlpress.uwl.ac.uk/newvistas/article/id/106/ ]
Dr. Jayman told the British Education Research Association (BERA): “BoB’s playful-learning approach encouraged empathy and pro-social behaviours towards the Beasties and between children.”
As a result of the COVID-19 pandamic the company has shifted its focus to provide tools to empower and assist the Parents and Educators throughout the school closures and beyond. As part of this they have joined forces with fully trained U.K teachers, personal trainers and other experts.
This has resulted in the Book of Beasties creating a brand new free to download home learning experience. One that combined curriculum-based subjects such as English Literacy, Science and Mathematics to the mental wellness world of Book of Beasties, its characters and activities with a nature themed twist.
It is so important that Parents and Educators are better supported as the impact this pandemic will have on our children could potentially last long after it ends. We face emerging from one crisis straight into another that sees children and young people struggling to readjust, play catch up and come to terms with the newly realized fragility of their everyday life.
It is more important now than ever that we need to reaffirm the importance of a healthy mind and the essentiality of enabling children to understand their mental health as well as explore methods of coping if, and when issues arise.
For this theme the mental health game developers collaborated with author and celebrity plant hunter Tom Hart Dyke, creator of The World Gardens. For Book of Beasties’ Home Learning Kit Tom shared his personal story as well as tips on using nature to stay mentally well.
He commented: “Book of Beasties is a gloriously important educational tool to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing, and combines superbly with the wondrous world of plants to form a formidable force to induce therapeutic calmness and soothing tranquillity.”
Since the release of the Home Learning Kit it has been downloaded globally thousands of times reaching families from as far as the US, Australia and New Zealand. Parents have dubbed the kit “amazing” and “a godsend” whilst praising it for the alternative narrative driven and adventure-based learning method that Book of Beasties is rapidly becoming known for.
The initial phase of the second Home Learning Kit is due to be released on 12th May free to download with all new content and this time carrying the theme of ‘play.’ To help with the development of the kit BoB has welcomed play expert and creative strategist, Yesim Kunter.
Yesim, who has twelve years’ experience in companies including Toys R Us, Lego and Hasbro originally trained as a toy designer and has transformed her focus to defining new play experiences for children.
This ability to create new experiences for child play combined with Book of Beasties established success in the field of children’s mental health guarantees this free resource for parents and teachers to be a ground breaking and exciting opportunity to deepen our children’s learning through the lockdown period.
You can find out more about Book of Beasties on their website: www.bookofbeasties.com
Follow them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn: @bookofbeasties