CW: Mentions of self-harm, alcohol and drug use
A 25-year-old Surrey resident who works in mental health has released a children’s book to teach young kids how to take care of their bodies.
Reshmi Chandra is currently in school completing her Masters for counselling and works with youth between the ages of 18-24 who have mental illness, to help them achieve their goals.
As a model and mental health advocate, Chandra often challenges the stigmas around mental health on her Instagram account and Youtube channel. She shares vulnerable parts of her experiences, advice and healthy techniques for those who also struggle with mental illness.
Chandra’s children’s book How I Take Care of My Home was first inspired by her own adolescent experiences and her mental health challenges while navigating high school as a teenager.
Due to the lack of management and coping strategies she was taught, she shared that she resorted to self harming behaviours
She said that this became her “addiction” for years.
“I had scars on my arm and teachers would know they were there, but chose to ignore it,” said Chandra in an interview with 5XPress.
The lack of support from teachers in high school made her realize that it wasn’t just her who turned to self-harm as a “healthy strategy,” as many of her classmates and peers also turned to self-harm as a coping mechanism.
Chandra was working with autistic children in high school when she started to question why children weren’t being taught about mental health and how to take care of themselves.
“Children are capable of learning so much, so I always questioned why nobody was teaching them about mental health and how to properly take care of themselves,” she continued.
This was because for her, mental health was not talked about in her household. Coming from a brown family, there were family dynamics such as generational differences that further stigmatized the conversations around mental health.
The lack of conversation about self-care and mental health between children and their caretakers often creates shame and silence, and it can be a struggle to navigate these dynamics.
This is often because our own caretakers were never taught how to put themselves first, which leads to their own unresolved, internal problems that then influences children’s relationships to mental health and self-care.
One of Chandra’s reminders to herself throughout her life has been that she can turn negative emotions into positive ones when she is having bad mental health days.
She further affirms that her mental illness cannot and has not stopped her from creating positive change, such as de-stigmatizing the conversation around mental health and not letting her mental illness define who she is.
Because of her experiences, she doesn’t want children to struggle the way she did due to the lack of conversation and education about mental health. By writing this children’s book, she hopes that children will be able to openly talk about taking care of themselves in healthy ways, and that any unexpected emotions that come their way can be dealt with and managed healthily.
“In the beginning of the book, it teaches you that your body is your home. Your body is what you’re going to live in your whole life and it's your job to take care of it,” she said.
Chandra also wants to remind children that their emotions, insecurities, and mental health challenges are not a part of who they are. Just because there are days that are bad, doesn’t mean those bad days will last forever.
Meditation was also a key part of Chandra’s healing journey, so she took some time to do research on ways she could turn her own healthy mechanisms into child-friendly ones.
While this is a children’s book, adults can also tap into their inner child to reconnect with the idea that the body is our temple and deserves to be taken care of no matter how young, or old we are.
“The rest of the book is filled with child-friendly techniques to alleviate these emotions in a healthy way,” mentions Chandra.
When asked if there was another book in the works, Chandra mentioned that she would love to work on another one once she finishes her Masters degree and becomes a counsellor.
How I Take Care of my Home is available on Amazon.
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