A new children’s book focusing on mental health is being praised by both the mental health and agriculture sectors.
Written by children’s author Harriet Bremner, Use Your Voice is a collaboration with Elle Perriam, of Lowburn, and founder of Will To Live, and their dogssausage dog and Jess the Huntaway.
For former primary school teacher Ms Bremner, it is her third book in a series aimed at rural children under her brand Gurt And Pops.
“It’s about spreading important messages, we need to give children the tools to be able to cry when they feel like it, talk to someone about how they are feeling without judgement and have a tribe around them who will stand by their side through thick and thin,” Ms Bremner said.
Using a black dog to tell a story of black dog’, the book follows Jess the Huntaway around a South Island high country station.
Jess was also the mascot for Will To Live’s Speak Up tour, and travelled with Ms Perriam around the country hosting events in local pubs, to encourage farmers to speak up about mental health.
In the book, Jess loses her bark and can no longer do her job as a high country station mainstay.
Sad and depressed, she has lost her “voice” and can no longer “speak up”.
Sausage dog Poppy and her farmyard friends then help Jess through her tough time while also delivering important messages about mental health to children.
It encourages them to speak up about how they feel, and that it is OK to cry and to tell others about their feelings.
Ms Perriam said she was in awe of Ms Bremner’s writing and when approached, knew she had to get in behind Poppy and Jess’s story.
“This book has the power to create a culture change about how we talk about mental health in New Zealand,” she said.
“Society has always told our children for generations to which has conditioned us right through to adulthood to hide, push away and not accept emotion.
“We need our young children to understand that it’s OK not to be OK and to be able to release and process emotions as they go through life.”