A new storybook, Bracky Builds a New Den helps guide children through significant life upheavals, as latest research reveals that as many as 2.5 million children are experiencing mental health challenges following a parent’s injury or illness
New data shows that 58% (2.5 million) of children in the UK are struggling with mental health conditions such as anxiety, insomnia and PTSD following their parent or carer’s serious injury or illness.
Major life upheavals, including missing education, moving house, witnessing a divorce, being cared for by relatives or friends and being forced to take on caring responsibilities of their own caregivers, are contributing to high levels of stress in children.
Conducted by law firm Fletchers Serious Injury, the data showed a significant life upheaval is leading to both short and long-term mental health challenges, with children experiencing shock, angry outbursts, anxiety and insomnia. In more severe cases, children are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of the trauma they experienced.
In response to the data, the law firm has collaborated with Charlotte Beaumont, child psychotherapist and counsellor, to create a new children’s book that explores the emotional and practical challenges a family may face following a significant life upheaval or serious injury.
Bracky Builds a New Den follows the story of Bracky, a happy dinosaur who experiences trauma when his father suffers a serious injury. Born out of advice from therapists and first-hand accounts from families and children who have experienced serious injury, Bracky Builds a New Den is a sensitive and empathetic guide for children aged five to eight, who live in similar circumstances to the dinosaur.
“When an event like this occurs, children naturally try to make sense of the world around them with the explanations they have available to them,” says Charlotte Beaumont. “It is useful to help children to understand in an age-appropriate way what has occurred, and update this as they grow to fit their more sophisticated development.
“It [the book] can act as a conversation starter with families who find themselves in a similar story, providing them the opportunity to explore the situation from different angles because although the story features trauma, it also highlights the transition to a ‘new normal’ and a feeling of hopefulness for what’s to come.”
Coming together as a family can help bring about a sense of control and clarity in situations where children are likely to feel lost and confused. As Charlotte says, storytelling can be a lovely way to heal together and discuss what may be possible going forward.
Bracky Builds a New Den is available to download as an eBook on the Fletchers Serious Injury website, where you can also find a variety of activities and fact sheets for children, to help them cope with the challenges of a parent or carer suffering a serious injury.