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What's going on inside my head - Book Review

What’s going on inside my head? Starting conversations with your child about positive mental health

Potter, M. (2019). London: Featherstone.

Using her experience as a middle school teacher, Molly Potter’s books focus on the personal, social and emotional development of children. What’s going on inside my head? looks at the topic of positive mental health, and aims to help children become more self-aware, providing them with suggested ways to look after themselves and to understand their feelings.

This book is written for whānau, caregivers and kids to read together. As quite a dense read for one sitting, I think it’d be particularly handy to refer back to when real life issues arise to talk about ways to problem solve together – it is jam packed with helpful strategies and activities to encourage a compassionate and positive mindset.

I can see this book being a helpful prompt for classroom activities, and it could also be incorporated into a wider family wellbeing plan. Due to its focus on fostering positive wellbeing, the content is relevant to everyone. It is a good reminder for adults that our actions, self-care strategies, (or lack of), and the words we use are emulated by the little ones in our lives. The book is indeed a useful tool to start conversations, and with its core message that it is important to ask for help, it could help children to feel cared for and not alone when faced with challenges.

I also look forward to reviewing Potter’s new book It’s Okay to Cry – which focuses on encouraging boys to talk about their feelings.

Reviewed by Kim Higginson, Information Management Specialist, MHF

Rāhina / Monday

Reconnect with yourself

Connecting with yourself is a skill. To start the week, begin by taking a moment to check in with yourself, acknowledge how you’re feeling and how the last few years of turbulence affected you and your connection with others and the world around you. This is a good time to think about the people you have lost contact with who you might want to reach out to, or the special places you haven’t visited in a while, and set some whāinga/goals for the week ahead.

At the end of the week, you can reflect on how you felt at the start and how reconnecting with the people and places that are special to you has lifted you up.

A few ideas for reconnecting with yourself:

Rātū/ Tuesday

Reconnect with a friend or loved one

We know life can get busy, but feeling connected to the people that are important to us can make a big difference to our mental health. Connection brings purpose and belonging to our lives and makes us feel happier and more secure. Today is about reconnecting with the people in our lives – it could be someone special who you have lost touch with or just wish you caught up with more often.

A few ideas for reconnecting with a friend or loved one:

Rāapa / Wednesday

Reconnect with a special place

The places and spaces we spend our time in have a huge impact on how we feel. Most of us have places we can go that calm, inspire or uplift us. Today, make time to go to a place that is special to you and take notice of how you feel when you are there. For some of us, the special place that comes to mind might be out of reach - perhaps it’s overseas, or too far away to get to. Even if we can’t get there right now, there are ways that we can reconnect with the places that lift us up.

A few ideas for reconnecting with a special place:

Rāpare / Thursday

Reconnect with your community.

Today is about reconnecting with your hapori whānui/wider community. It’s the perfect time to sign up to be a volunteer or join a local community group, but it could also be as simple as making the effort to reconnect with the people you interact with every day. Today is all about savouring the little hononga/connections that make us human.

A few ideas for reconnecting with your community:

Rāmere / Friday

Reconnect with nature

To round out the week, we’re asking you to reconnect with the beautiful taonga that is te taiao/the natural environment. Studies show exposure to nature not only makes us feel better emotionally, it contributes to our physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. All the more reason to spend at least a small moment today outside - breathing in some fresh air and noticing the world around you.

A few ideas for reconnecting with nature: