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Using cartoons to talk to children about their mental health

Talking about difficult feelings with children can be hard - especially while in lockdown when emotions are potentially running higher than normal. This Mental Health Awareness Week, we want to equip you with the resources to talk about 'feelings'. Here, Ian Long from the Blob Tree introduces their latest resource images for talking about mental wellbeing in isolation.

The Blobs were created in the 80s by myself and Pip Wilson, who came up with the idea. He was trying to communicate with the very hard-to-reach groups of young people, particularly young men, and wanted an image that would enable people to touch and say that's how they feel. It had to be genderless, but what they did have was the first two languages you develop as a child before we can understand words: understanding feelings and understanding body language. 

For the COVID-19 lockdown, we've developed a whole range of images that cover key aspects of the lockdown so that children and young people can talk about their feelings and using a visual structure. Schools are closed at the moment and many children are at home doing homeschooling, so children can't partner up to talk about the images. We provide a set of questions which go from just looking at general emotions to being much more specific to the feelings that individual child might have. It gives them an opportunity to release their feelings through discussion in a structured sort of way. 

This Mental Health Awareness Week, it's important to talk about emotions. God's made us in his image, and so one of those things is that we have feelings and thoughts. Especially during a period like lockdown, where our bodies are very much trapped, we need to exercise the other parts of who we are. Lots of people have used the the blob images to to express who they are and to release themselves, and during a period like the awareness week, we need to help children to do this. 

These images are to give people a starting point. There will often be angry or sad blobs, and often in our society, we don't allow the anger to be talked about. We try and push that thing away. But in lockdown, slamming the door isn't very helpful. Talking about how we're feeling why we're feeling angry, and how we can cope with that, is really, really important.

Why not use these images as a starting point with your children?

Ian long is an illustrator and visualiser for the Blob Tree resources.