Picture books for children of parents with mental illness
Useful media that provide helpful explanations of mental illness in parents and support children in their daily lives
When parents develop mental illness, children have a lot of questions and worries. What is happening with my mom or dad? Is it my fault that my parent is so unwell? The children are at a higher risk to develop mental illness themselves in later life. That is one of the reasons why it is important to monitor their uncertainty early on and to help them find answers to their questions. Among other things, child-appropriate media can be used here ― for young children, ideally picture books to provide information on mental illness and on coping in daily life. In clinical psychology, little is known about children’s perception and processing of picture books. This research project plans to utilize knowledge from other areas of psychology research and applied psychology, especially media psychology.
The aim of this study is to create a catalogue of criteria for picture books that provide helpful explanations of mental illness in parents and support children in their daily lives. The criteria will be roughly divided into content aspects, visual/pictorial and illustrative aspects, and language aspects. This will be done based on: (1) extensive literature research and theoretical exploration, and (2) interviews with experts. Then the criteria will be tested empirically by presenting children with a book selected from the catalogue developed and also by including many pictures and text examples from other existing picture books in the survey. The criteria for helpful picture books will be discussed in connection with other appropriate children’s media.