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Aug 24, 2023

Mental Health and Children: TV programs, Movies and Books

As a mother, it is important for me to find children’s TV programs and shows that educational, fun and addresses and supports the importance of mental health and the normalcy and validation of all emotions, thoughts, and feelings for my daughter. As a therapist, I am also often using children’s TV shows to help students apply the messages in their own life situations to ensure emotional regulation. Children’s books, TV programs and movies can help normalize the healthy expression of all emotions and be a great supplement to traditional talk and play therapies.

TV cartoons such as 'Arthur,' 'Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,' and 'Sesame Street,' and movies such as "Inside Out" all address mental health issues. I have found that these programs and movies have been helpful for me to reference with helping my daughter or students navigate their emotions as these are programs and movies that serve as examples and something that they can relate to when they do not have the words for what they are experiencing in the moment. Some other movies and TV programs that address mental health for children include:

  • Up
  • Encanto
  • Soul
  • Turning Red
  • Hey Arnold

Books can be extremely helpful when TV programs and movies are not accessible. Picture books are great because children can sometimes imagine themselves as the characters and understand themselves from a new perspective. I have used tons of books in my sessions with children. Books that address mental health and life issues can help children name their feelings, emotions, and experiences. Books coupled with play therapy can be the best therapy for children as play is their primary language. Some children’s books that I have used and found helpful include (This is not an exhaustive list as I have some many more books that I enjoy reading with children)

  • The Way I Feel by Janan Cain
  • The Color Monster by Anna Llenas
  • The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
  • I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont
  • The Smart Cookie by Jory John and Pete Oswald (and ALL the other books in this series)

I leave you with these reflective questions: What are some of your favorite books, children’s programs, and movies that you have used in your sessions with your kiddos or as a parent/caregiver? If you are not using children’s books and movies in your sessions, what ways can they be incorporated into your sessions? What may be some additional advantages to using books and movies to help children understand their emotions, thoughts, and feelings? What might be some disadvantages to using children’s movies and books to address mental health, if any?

Happy Reading! -JHR

Janeisha Hood Rogers is a doctoral candidate in the counselor education and supervision program in Chicago, IL. She is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor (LCPC) that has worked as a therapist in various settings including schools, community mental health agencies and in-patient hospitals. Janeisha is also a social justice advocate and enjoys raising awareness and educating others on mental health topics, social and cultural issues, and holistic healing.

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