July 17

Liverpool Author calls on city to help with young children’s mental health needs

Natalie Reeves Billing invites leaders to become first adopters of unique strategy

A successful Liverpool author with multiple books and awards behind her is calling on Liverpool leaders to address what she terms “an everlasting failure by the nation to address the mental health needs of young children.”

Natalie Billing Reeves, xx, from Toxteth says that avoidance has been the only strategy deployed to date in the UK when it comes to the subject of including children aged 7 and younger in mental health discussions and providing for their needs.

“I’ve grown up in a city that has so much unity in its ranks when it comes to helping fellow members of society. It makes sense that given how open we’ve become nationally about mental health through the pandemic that now is the time to create change and use that heightened awareness to help the very young in Liverpool.

“Historically, mental health strategies are aimed at secondary school pupils, but I would argue that it’s too late for too many children by then. A young child should be given the opportunity to learn in the early years what’s right for them and help gain a sense of identity. The perception amongst many parents might be that they are too young, but the realities of life tell us different. Avoidance is not the answer.”

2022 is the Year of the Spoken Word in Liverpool and Natalie (who is on the core planning group) is determined to use the opportunity to engage with leaders and dignitaries and their voices with a view to timetabling a plan to construct a unique, city approach to the issue that could become a template nationally.

Natalie has chosen a platform in July to do this at the launch of Where Is My Smile, her latest picture book aimed at 3-7-year-olds that she’s written telling the story of how a young boy goes on a physical journey through different locations in and around his home to find his smile which ends up uniting the family.

“The topic of the book is really a conversation piece with lots of downloads for parents and their children to help complement it post-launch on July 20th. I was inspired to write It because I wanted to help families come together, talk, and share feelings until everyone can genuinely smile. Adults and young children hold on to feelings in very different ways, and in the latter this sometimes can manifest in physical ways harmful to the child.”

Natalie reflects on her own early age mental health in the various events she regularly speaks at across the UK. It inspired her to become the ambassador for the Boat of Hope child mental health campaign, benefitting the Samaritans. She openly admits to being labelled an ‘odd child with intense emotions.’

“I was in an environment in which I grew up too quick. We didn’t talk about real feelings in my family. I had to look for comfort elsewhere, a safer space if you like. At the core, it’s what every young child needs and I believe we are a city ideally suited to be a leader for change in how mental health for young children is both perceived and delivered.”

Where Is My Smile has been published by Tiny Tree Books and beautifully illustrated by Hannah Jesse. It is available from many good bookshops including https://www.whsmith.co.uk/products/where-is-my-smile/natalie-reevesbilling/hannah-jesse/paperback/9781913230418.html

The official invite-only launch of Where Is My Smile takes place on July 20th from 7pm at the Write Blend Bookshop in Waterloo, Liverpool L22 0ND and the event is a sell-out.

 


Tags


You may also like

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}