On this page I have highlighted a range of books which may be of interest to you in the field of mental health and emotional wellbeing. All books featured here are books I have personally read and reviewed for suitability. If you’d like to recommend a book or other resource for inclusion here please email email@example.com or tweet @PookyH.
Self-Harm and Eating Disorders in Schools: A Guide to Whole School Support and Practical Strategies – Pooky Knightsmith
Self-harm and eating disorders are present in almost every school and they frequently co-occur. It is vital that school staff can spot early warning signs, understand triggers and know how to effectively support the students in their care. This is a very practical guide that helps school staff to gain a better understanding of self-harm and eating disorders, dispelling the myths and misconceptions that surround these behaviours, and explaining how to respond to disclosures, make referrals, and work alongside parents to assist in the road to recovery. The book provides a range of guidance from whole-school policies and procedures to day-to-day strategies to implement in lessons, at mealtimes and in one-on-one sessions. Click here to read reviews (and preview a chapter). Purchase here
The Eating Disorders Pocketbook – Pooky Knightsmith
This Pocketbook is suitable for anyone working in a school setting and will be of interest to parents, too. It contains ideas, information and practical advice for supporting pupils with eating disorders. It explains what an eating disorder is, focusing particularly on anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder. After identifying risk factors and warning signs, it looks at encouraging pupils to share their concerns and at how to respond when a student confides. Available via Amazon.
Once upon a time there was a Princess. She had everything a little girl could ever want, and she was happy. That is, until the fog came…
The Princess and the Fog is picture book to help sufferers of depression aged 5-7 cope with their difficult feelings. It uses vibrant illustrations, a sense of humour and metaphor to create a relatable, enjoyable story that describes the symptoms of childhood depression while also providing hope that things can get better with a little help and support. The story is also a great starting point for explaining depression to all children, especially those who may have a parent or close family member with depression.
With an essential guide for parents and carers by clinical paediatric psychologists, Dr Melinda Edwards MBE and Linda Bayliss, this book will be of immeasurable value to anyone supporting a child with, or affected by, depression, including social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors, arts therapists, pastoral care workers and school staff, as well as parents and carers. Pooky’s Review Here (with PDF extract). Purchase here.
How do you listen effectively when you’re already late for a meeting? How do you respond to a girl who’s so angry that she’s threatening to hit someone? Or to a boy who feels like giving up altogether? How do you listen, not only to students, but also to parents and to colleagues?
Whatever your role in school, listening will be at the heart of what you do. Your school will be measured, in part, by the quality of its daily relationships and those relationships will depend on how confidently people are able to listen to each other. This book answers all the difficult questions about how to listen, what to say, confidentiality and more. Helping with particular issues such as bullying, relationship difficulties, depression and self-harm is also covered.
With over 35 years’ experience in a variety of school roles, Nick Luxmoore offers practical, realistic answers, advice and guidance. This book will be essential reading for teachers and non-teachers alike. Full review here (inc PDF extract). Purchase here.
Creating Children’s Art Games for Emotional Support by Vicky Barber
Game playing is a highly effective way of engaging children and has long been acknowledged as an important means of psychological therapy. This book offers an abundance of fun games that help children to confront personal problems and issues in a light-hearted yet meaningful way.
These are games with a difference, as they must be constructed before they can be played. The creation aspect involves collaboration and cooperation within a team, and instils an empowering sense of ownership in the creators. By the time the game is ready to be played, children are confident, thoroughly engaged and ready to explore issues in a supportive environment. Each game has been tried and tested by the author, and is proven to really work.
A gentle story to help children aged 2 to 6 years who have lived with violence in their home
Baby Bear lives in a home with the Big Bears, and loves to chase butterflies and make mud pies – they make Baby Bear’s tummy fill with sunshine. Then, one night, Baby Bear hears a big storm downstairs in the house and in the morning, Baby Bear’s tummy starts to feel grey and rainy. How will such a small bear cope with these big new feelings?
This sensitive, charming storybook is written to help children who have lived with violence at home to begin to explore and name their feelings. Accompanied by notes for adults on how to use each page of the story to start conversations, it also features fun games and activities to help to understand and express difficult emotions. It will be a useful book for social workers, counsellors, domestic violence workers and all grown-ups working with children. Full review here (inc PDF extract). Purchase here.
From the Publisher: Frog, Dog, Flamingo and Dragon are all very upset – Frog has too many chores to do, Dog has writer’s block, Flamingo is being bullied at school and Dragon’s granddad has just died. Ladybird listens to their worries and comes up with a plan that will help them all – let’s learn Ladybird’s Remarkable Relaxation!
This beautiful picture book teaches an effective yoga relaxation technique that can be used anywhere and anytime to deal with a problem. Little Ladybird flutters from big toe to knee to thumb and onwards around the body, showing children how to focus their attention and calm their thoughts. Whether they feel stressed like Frog, or lack confidence like Dog, children will relate to the cast of delightful characters and learn that they too can use relaxation to cope with anxiety, bullying, or grief, and face their worries.
This book will be an excellent resource for teachers and teaching assistants in both mainstream and special needs schools, yoga instructors, and parents looking for a fun and engaging story to teach children aged 4–11 about coping with difficult emotions. Full review here (inc PDF extract). Purchase here.
From the Publisher: Packed with simple ideas to regulate the emotions and senses, this book will help children tackle difficult feelings head-on and feel awesome and in control!
From breathing exercises, pressure holds and finger pulls, to fidgets, noise-reducing headphones and gum, the book is brimming with fun stuff to help kids feel cool, calm and collected. They will learn how to label difficult feelings, choose the perfect strategies and tools to tackle them, and use these correctly whether at home or at school. The strategies and tools are accompanied by cartoon-style illustrations, and the author includes useful tips for parents and teachers as well as handy visual charts and checklists to track learning and progress.
Armed with this book, kids will be well on their way to managing difficult emotions and feeling just right in whatever situation life throws at them! Suitable for children with emotional and sensory processing difficulties aged approximately 7 to 14 years. Purchase Here. Full Review (inc PDF extract).
From the Publisher: Bodies do all sorts of amazing things, like move around, grow bigger and heal themselves. Bodies also come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and we need to take care of them so that they stay healthy and strong. If we listen to our bodies they tell us exactly what they need. The colourful illustrations in this unique picture book will encourage children to love their bodies from an early age. By learning about all the wonderful things bodies can do, and how each body is different and unique, children will be inspired to take good care of their bodies throughout their lives. Promoting respect for body diversity among children will also encourage kindness and help prevent bullying. This book is ideal for children aged 3 and upwards to read at home or school, either alone or with a parent, family member, teacher or other caring professional. Full review here (inc PDF extract). Purchase here.
‘From the Publisher: As clinicians dealing frequently with OCD, we never cease to be struck by the massive impact of the disorder on families.
This book presents a first-hand account of the facts and challenges that a parent of a child with OCD may encounter in a refreshing, down to earth and humorous style. It is a “must-read” for parents and clinicians interested in gaining a deeper insight into the challenges that families encounter when children suffer with OCD.’
Claire Sanders talks with honesty and humour about her son’s illness, providing practical advice and insight. She covers everything from getting a diagnosis and what to expect in therapy, to how to cope with panic attacks, how it might affect the rest of your family and how you might feel as a parent. Read Full Review (inc PDF extract). Purchase a Copy
Can I Tell You About Depression? A Guide for Friends, Family & Professionals – Christopher Dowrick & Susan Martin
From the Publisher: Meet Julie a women who suffers from periods of depression. Julie and her family help readers to understand what depression is, what it is like to feel depressed and how it can affect their family life. She explains how coping with depression can sometimes be very difficult but there is support and help available that can relieve the feelings of depression. This illustrated book is an ideal introduction to depression a condition that can be particularly difficult for children to understand. It is suitable for readers aged 7 upwards and shows family, friends and anyone who knows someone affected by depression how they can offer support. Read my full review (inc PDF extract). Purchase here.
Banish Your Body Image Thief – Kate Collins-Donnelly
The book is aimed at boys and girls aged 10-18, though I think it could be used by slightly younger children with support and guidance. It starts off by helping young people to understand what body image is and why it’s important before considering negative body image and the impact a negative body image can have. Alongside this, the concept of the ‘body image thief’ – who steals positive body image – is introduced and practical strategies for banishing the thief are explored. Read my full review. Available via Amazon.
All About Drugs and Young People: Essential Information and Advice for Parents and Professionals – Julian Cohen
Packed with information, advice and learning activities, this book tells you what you need to know about drugs, young people’s drug use, and how you can help them stay safe. It covers everything from w hat the effects are and why young people take drugs, to how to negotiate drug rules and ways to prevent and minimise harm. An easy to use section contains factual information about various drugs, covering a description of each drug, street names, a brief history, legal status, availability, extent of use and cost, effects, possible harms, and harm reduction advice. The new est and emerging drugs, such as legal highs, are included, as well as illegal drugs, alcohol, caffeine and tobacco. Available via Amazon
Life Coaching for Kids: A Practical Manual to Coach Children and Young People to Success, Well-being and Fulfilment – Nikki Giant
Life coaching is a great way to help children and young people build self-esteem, set positive goals and deal with difficult issues such as bullying, anxiety and poor body image. This book sets out what life coaching is and how it works, what the benefits are, and how to go about coaching children and young people. Part 1 covers the background, theory and
different types of coaching, and Part 2 explores the life coaching model and different techniques used, with examples of how coaching works in practice and how to build skills. The third part contains activities and photocopiable worksheets to use in practice with young people. They include general activities to develop self-esteem, set goals and build confidence, as well as activities for specific issues such as bullying, poor body image, relationships and anxiety.
Suitable for use with young people aged 9-16, this practical guide is ideal for coaches, teachers, counsellors and youth workers wanting to put coaching into practice with young people, and is also suitable for parents to use at home with their child. Available via Amazon.
Anorexia Nervosa: A Recovery Guide for Sufferers, Families and Friends – Janet Treasure and June Alexander
The highly respected and widely known Anorexia Nervosa: A Survival Guide for Sufferers and Friendswas written in 1997. This long-awaited new edition builds on the work of the first book, providing essential new and updated research outcomes on anorexia nervosa. It offers a unique insight and guidance into the recovery process for those who suffer from an eating disorder as well as advice and information for their loved ones. Written collaboratively by both an expert in the field and someone with personal experience of eating disorders, this book offers exceptional understanding of the issues surrounding the illness.
Divided into four sections, it includes:
- an outline of anorexia nervosa
- coping strategies for sufferers
- advice and information for families, carers and friends
- guidelines for professionals who are involved in the sufferer’s life.
Families, friends, carers and professionals such as teachers and GPs are encouraged to read all sections in order to fully understand the illness. With an emphasis on collaboration and a layout that enables content to be referenced and read in any order, this book is an essential resource for anyone affected, directly or indirectly, by anorexia nervosa. Available via Amazon.
When an eating disorder (ED) is involved, the problems caused by miscommunication can have serious consequences. A remark from a parent that is intended as positive encouragement could act as a trigger and a criticism from someone with an ED might really be a cry for help. This book aims to improve communication between someone with an eating disorder and their friends and family by revealing the eating disorder mind set and decoding language choices. Using examples of real-life, everyday conversations, ED says U said translates the highly charged language of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder and unravels the emotional chaos that can surround sufferers and those who care for them. It provides clear examples of the common pitfalls and gives invaluable advice about how to help in defusing the triggers and regaining the personality swamped by the illness. A unique resource of information on EDs, this book will be essential reading for everyone who has been affected by eating disorders: sufferers, carers, family and friends, together with health care professionals treating people with eating disorders. Available via Amazon.
Adolescent Volcanoes: Helping Adolescents and Their Parents to Deal With Anger – Warwick Pudney and Eliane Whitehouse
Some adolescents seem to act as if they have a volcano inside — always on the verge of erupting into anger. They often generate discord and have combative relationships with parents, care givers and other adults who work with them. Adolescent Volcanoes is a practical resource for adults working with adolescents and their parents to help them understand, express and manage their anger. Featuring interactive worksheets and handouts throughout, it explores the causes of anger, focusing not only on the adolescent, but also on styles of parenting and situations at home that can exacerbate these feelings, and suggests ways to tone down confrontations and improve relationships. It describes models that explain the dynamics of arguments, such as ‘power analysis’ and ‘positive intentions’. It also explains anger management tools such as ‘escalators’, ‘time out’, ’emotional awareness’, ‘triggers’ and the ‘four-part phrase’. By improving emotional management and communication, this resource will help adolescents to understand how to reduce attacking behaviour and turn their anger into something positive. Adolescent Volcanoes can be used as the basis of counselling sessions and incident management. It will be invaluable for counsellors, teachers, youth workers and social workers who work with adolescents. Available via Amazon.
Little Volcanoes: Helping Young Children and Their Parents to Deal with Anger – Warwick Pudney and Eliane Whitehouse
Young children can erupt like little volcanoes when they are feeling angry. It can be overwhelming and difficult to deal with, and can produce angry feelings in the parent or caregiver too. This book is packed with advice and strategies for those working with children under five on how to understand and manage anger in children, and also how to help their parents or caregivers to deal with anger. The authors outline the different reasons children may feel angry so that their emotions can be fully understood, and offer strategies to combat negative feelings and minimize outbursts. These include putting in place behavioural boundaries and helping a child to feel secure. Simple activities and exercises are also given to help children and adults to express their anger positively. In addition, a selection of poems and stories will help adults to pass on the lessons of the book to children. This practical and accessible book will be of essential use to any professional helper of parents and young children such as early childhood educators, caregivers and social workers, as well as to parents themselves. Available via Amazon.
What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Anxiety Disorders: Key Concepts, Insights, and Interventions – Martin N. Seif and Sally Winston
What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Anxiety Disorders is an integrated and practical approach to treating anxiety disorders for general psychotherapists. What is new and exciting is its focus on changing a patient’s relationship to anxiety in order to enable enduring recovery rather than merely offering a menu of techniques for controlling symptoms. Neither a CBT manual nor an academic text nor a self-help book, What Every Therapist Needs to Know About Anxiety Disorders offers page after page of key insights into ways to help patients suffering from phobias, panic attacks, unwanted intrusive thoughts, compulsions and worries. The authors offer a rich array of therapist-patient vignettes, case examples, stories, and metaphors that will complement the work of trainees and experienced clinicians of every orientation. Readers will come away from the book with a new framework for understanding some of the most frustrating clinical challenges in anxiety disorders, including “reassurance junkies,” endless obsessional loops, and the paradoxical effects of effort. Available via Amazon.
Families, schools, and communities can prepare children and teens to thrive through both good and challenging times. Building Resilience in Children and Teens offers strategies to help kids from 18 months to 18 years build seven crucial Cs – competence, confidence, connection, character, contribution, coping, and control – so they can excel in life and bounce back from challenges. The book describes how to raise authentically successful children who will be happy, hardworking, compassionate, creative, and innovative. Dr. Ginsburg reminds parents that our goal is to think in the present and prepare for the future, to remember that our real goal is to raise children to be successful 35-year-olds. It’s about more than immediate smiles or even good grades; it’s about raising kids to be emotionally and socially intelligent, to be able to recover from disappointment and forge ahead throughout their lives. The stable connection between caring adults and children is the key to the security that allows kids to creatively master challenges and reach their highest potential. This book offers concrete strategies to solidify those vital family connections. Resilience is also about confronting the overwhelming stress kids face today. This invaluable guide offers coping strategies for facing the stresses of academic performance, high achievement standards, media messages, peer pressure, and family tension. Young people too commonly survive stress by indulging in unhealthy behaviors or by giving up completely The suggested solutions offered here are aimed at building a repertoire of positive coping strategies. Kids who have these healthy strategies in place may be less likely to turn to those quick, easy, but dangerous fixes that adults fear. The book includes a guide for teens to create their own customized positive coping strategies. Available via Amazon.
Can I tell you about Anxiety?: A guide for friends, family and professionals – Lucy Willetts and Polly Waite
Meet Megan – a young girl who has an anxiety disorder. Megan invites readers to learn about anxiety from her perspective, helping them to understand why she sometimes feels anxious and how this affects her thoughts, feelings and behaviours. Megan talks about techniques she has learnt to help manage her anxiety, and how people around her can help. With illustrations throughout, this will be an ideal way to explore anxiety difficulties. It shows family, friends and teachers how they can support someone who experiences anxiety and will be an excellent way to start a conversation about anxiety, in the classroom or at home. Available via Amazon.
Can I tell you about Eating Disorders?: A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals – Bryan Lask and Lucy Watson
Meet Alice – a teenage girl with anorexia nervosa. Alice invites readers to learn about anorexia nervosa and how it makes her see herself differently from how other people see her. She also introduces readers to Beth who has bulimia nervosa, Sam who has selective eating problems, Francesca who has functional dysphagia and Freddie who has food avoidance emotional disorder. They all explain why they find food difficult and how their eating disorders are different. This illustrated book is an ideal introduction to understanding the complex issues surrounding eating disorders. It shows family, friends and teachers how they can support a young person with an eating disorder and will also be a good place to start when encouraging open conversations about eating disorders at school or at home. The Can I tell you about? series offers simple introductions to a range of limiting conditions and other issues that affect our lives. Friendly characters invite readers to learn about their experiences, the challenges they face, and how they would like to be helped and supported. These books serve as excellent starting points for family and classroom discussions. Available via Amazon.
Can I Tell You About OCD?: A Guide for Friends, Family and Professionals – Amita Jassi and Sarah Hull
Meet Katie – a teenager with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Katie invites readers to learn about OCD from her perspective, helping them to understand what it is, how her obsessions and compulsions affect her daily life, and how people around her can help. With illustrations throughout, this will be an ideal introduction to OCD for both young people and older readers. It shows family, friends and teachers how they can support someone with the condition and will be an excellent way to start a conversation about OCD, in the classroom or at home. The Can I tell you about . . . series offers simple introductions to a range of limiting conditions. Friendly characters invite readers to learn about their experiences of living with a particular condition and how they would like to be helped and supported. These books serve as excellent starting points for family and classroom discussions. Available via Amazon.
For some, life’s introduction to death and grief comes early, and when it does it can take many forms. Not only does Dealing with Dying, Death, and Grief during Adolescence tackle them all, it does so with David Balk’s remarkable sensitivity to and deep knowledge of the pressures and opportunities adolescents face in their transition from childhood to adulthood. In seamless, jargon-free language, Balk brings readers up to date with what we know about adolescent development, because over time such changes form the backstory we need to comprehend the impact of death and bereavement in an adolescent’s life. The book’s later chapters break down the recent findings in the study of life-threatening illness and bereavement during adolescence. And, crucially, these chapters also examine interventions that assist adolescents coping with these difficulties. Clinicians will come away from this book with both a grounded understanding of adolescent development and the adolescent experience of death, and they’ll also gain specific tools for helping adolescents cope with death and grief on their own terms. For any clinician committed to supporting adolescents facing some of life’s most difficult experiences, this integrated, up-to-date, and deeply insightful text is simply the book to have. (n.b. this is very heavy and academic, more suited to clinicians than parents / teachers). Available via Amazon.
A Short Introduction to Understanding and Supporting Children and Young People Who Self-Harm – Carol Fitzpatrick
Self-harm and suicidal behaviours are increasingly common in young people, but are often hidden. “A Short Introduction to Helping Children and Young People Who Self-Harm” aims to show parents, carers and professionals how they can support young people through these difficult times, as well as how to find specialist professional help. The author uses an easy-to-read, jargon free and positive approach to tackle the stigma attached to self-harm and suicidal behaviour. This book combines case studies with professional advice to help the reader take the first steps towards helping the young person in need. It advises on how to distinguish between normal adolescent behaviour and the signs of mental health problems, while showing how an adult can sensitively communicate with a teenager about the difficult subject. The book also emphasizes the importance of parents and carers seeking support for themselves. This book will be an invaluable resource for parents, teachers, youth workers, and others who care for a young person showing signs of self-harm or suicidal behaviour. “JKP Short Introductions” are the perfect starting point for any parent or professional who is caring for children or young people. Covering a range of key issues relating to mental health and well-being, these clear and easy to read books are packed with practical advice, tips and real-life examples. They are ideal for anyone working to help children to overcome problems and to develop healthy, happy and confident lives. Available via Amazon.
Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder: The New Maudsley Method – Janet Treasure, Gráinne Smith and Anna Crane
Skills-based Learning for Caring for a Loved One with an Eating Disorder equips carers with the skills and knowledge needed to support and encourage those suffering from an eating disorder, and to help them to break free from the traps that prevent recovery.
Through a coordinated approach, this book offers information alongside detailed techniques and strategies, which aim to improve professionals’ and home carers’ ability to build continuity and consistency of support for their loved ones. The authors use evidence-based research and personal experience, as well as practical support skills, to advise the reader on a number of difficult areas in caring for someone with an eating disorder. These include:
- working towards positive change through good communications skills
- developing problem solving skills
- building resilience
- managing difficult behaviour.
This book is essential reading for both professionals and families involved in the care and support of anyone with an eating disorder. It will enable the reader to use the skills, information and insight gained to help change eating disorder symptoms. Available via Amazon.
Banish Your Self-Esteem Thief: A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Workbook on Building Positive Self-esteem for Young People – Kate Collins-Donnelly
Build confidence and self-esteem with this fun and effective workbook for young people. Look out – the Self-Esteem Thief is on the prowl! He’s the crafty character who keeps stealing your positive self-esteem from your Self-Esteem Vault, leaving only negative thoughts and feelings about you behind. But the good news is you can banish him for good and this workbook will show you how! Packed with activities and real-life stories, this imaginative workbook will show you what self-esteem is, how it develops, the impact it can have and how all this applies to your own self-esteem. Using cognitive behavioural and mindfulness principles and techniques, this workbook will help you change how you think and act in order to build positive self-esteem, protect your Self-Esteem Vault and banish your Self-Esteem Thief for good! Fun, easy to read and full of tips and strategies, this is an excellent workbook for young people aged 10+ to work through on their own or with the help of a parent or practitioner. Full review and extract available here. Purchase here.
Body image and its impact upon self-esteem has been recognised as an issue which affects increasingly younger children. Research in this area has traditionally focused on adolescents yet anxieties about appearance often develop at a much earlier age than this. Primary schools have a critical role in helping children to develop a healthy body image through positive intervention.
Body Image in the Primary School offers step-by-step lessons for teachers to address this issue. It examines the continuous media and peer pressures that young children are exposed to and encourages children to recognise their own strengths and qualities and to become resilient members of society. The authors demonstrate a practical range of activities and projects for teachers to work with designed to make them confident in discussing body image in the classroom.
This book offers:
- lesson plans for Key Stage 1, Key Stage 2 and the transition to Key Stage 3
- practical guidance on how to support and involve parents and carers
- analysis on the changing social influences of home life, peer pressure and the media
- overviews of research on the links between body image, academic achievement and emotional well-being.
This book contains explicit links to SEAL and the ECM outcomes and will be of significant interest to all teachers, teaching assistants and practitioners working with primary children. Available via Amazon.
Like most kids, Katie was a picky eater. She’d sit at the table in silent protest, hide uneaten toast in her bedroom, listen to parental threats that she’d have to eat it for breakfast.
But in any life a set of circumstance can collide, and normal behavior might soon shade into something sinister, something deadly.
Lighter Than My Shadow is a hand-drawn story of struggle and recovery, a trip into the black heart of a taboo illness, an exposure of those who are so weak as to prey on the vulnerable, and an inspiration to anybody who believes in the human power to endure towards happiness. Available via Amazon.
Helping Adolescents and Adults to Build Self-Esteem: A Photocopiable Resource Book – Deborah M Plummer
Packed with activities and helpful advice, this resource is designed for professionals working to help adolescents and adults break the destructive cycle of low self-esteem. This fully updated new edition of Deborah M. Plummer’s popular resource is filled with practical ideas for building healthy self-esteem. Easy-to-use photocopiable activity sheets encourage participants to use existing skills and develop new techniques to nurture confidence and feelings of self-worth. These are complemented by relaxation and breath control exercises, and expanded theoretical chapters that explains what healthy self-esteem is, why people may have low self-esteem and the consequences that can result from it. Suitable for work with individuals and groups in a wide range of educational and therapeutic settings, this resource will prove indispensable to teachers, speech and language therapists, professionals working in adult education centres, counsellors at schools and universities, social workers and other individuals working with young people. Available via Amazon.