The Mental Health Association Oklahoma is working on a fun and engaging way to teach kids about mental health. They hope something good can come from a coloring book.
May is Mental Health Awareness month, so Mental Health Association Oklahoma is using that as an opportunity to teach young kids the importance of expressing their feelings.
In their new coloring book, kids and their parents can take baby steps when starting a conversation about mental health. CEO Terri White said it’s important to destigmatize talking about mental illness.
"It's an opportunity for that adult in their life to talk to them about what it means to have a healthy brain and it can also be a chance to equip the child with the ability to recognize and communicate their feelings," White said.
The coloring book has pages that encourage kids to talk about feelings, both happy and sad. Graphic Designer Matt Dean helped create the book and said he hopes kids understand the message that it’s okay to be sad sometimes.
"There are some days that are just going to be difficult or sad, and it's okay to acknowledge those feelings and it's okay to acknowledge that you are sad because once you do, then you'll be able to work through those emotions, weather the storm," said Dean.
White said it's good for kids struggling with certain feelings to have positive coping methods like going for a walk or coloring.
"All ages of kids, and adults honestly, need to be able to express themselves in positive ways," said White.
White said the need for mental health services has gone up during the pandemic, so now more than ever is a good time to make sure people know that help for mental illness is available. She said there are several resources for anyone struggling with mental health on their website here.
You can find helpful phone numbers from Mental Health Association Oklahoma below.
(918) 585-1213 for Mental Health Assistance Center for help navigating the system.
211 is the Statewide hotline to connect to any social services. It's also the Oklahoma Suicide Prevention Hotline and is available 24/7.