BUT WAIT! Not all is as it seems, the game also acts as an aid to help teachers, parents and guardians talk with children about mental health.
It offers an approachable and enjoyable platform to discuss serious issues such as depression and anxiety, which is the focal point of this game – both of which have been and still are firmly sat on the list of taboo subjects of conversation.
The beasties represent certain manifestations of depression and anxiety, each with a number of items that can help it.
Aside from the actual card game, the programme – using a lesson plan guide – encourages the conversation surrounding mental health by discussing how each character feels, why they may feel like that and how we can help them feel better.
Through trialling the game in schools we have found that this offers an ideal platform for children to talk about their own feelings, raise their own concerns and practice the simple and accessible wellness exercises that the item cards represent.
The conversation and hopefully the increased capabilities to cope with problems continues as the game is played outside of the classroom.
We have seen this method of mental health education work first hand, with students opening up about their personal issues to the SENCOs and other school representatives involved in the trials. It has even encouraged some to help others feel more comfortable talking about such a sensitive subject.
It’s not just for kids though, Book of Beasties has been played and enjoyed from children aged 6 to 10, and adults 20 and up. If you just want a fun and original game to play, you can – if you want something more then it’s there, take from it what you will.
How to play?
Last but not least, there is the Merchant. This old fella wanders around the game offering up opportunities to trade cards – either item-for-item, or item-for-comfort.
Note: The Merchant is an addition to the four cards in hand – if he is drawn from the deck the player must draw card immediately afterwards.
Mental health affects 1 in 4 people, and 1 in 10 children in the UK according to the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) – that’s 1,100,000 kids in our care that are suffering from illnesses ranging from eating disorders to schizophrenia.
However the most prominent disorder amongst young people is depression, which affects more children today than at any time in the last few decades. Worryingly the MHF claims that 70% of these kids are not being given the help and support needed to combat such disorders at an early age, which may in turn help them later in life.
We want to help change these stats…
Our ambition for this game and other similar projects to come, is to normalise the subject of mental health amongst younger people, inside and outside of the classroom.
From talking to teachers – including SENCO (Special Education Needs Coordinators) representatives from a number of school, and a number of the children in those school – it is apparent that many feel uncomfortable talking about their own and their peers mental health.
There also appears to be a lack of help for those children who do suffer – with minimal material especially for them to offer a gentle helping hand.
Book of Beasties makes it easier for kids to talk about this subject by relating how they feel and how they think others feel to the characters – then learn simple ways to help combat disorders as they arise.
It does not claim to be a cure, or a final solution but a coping mechanism that can be delivered and monitored as the children progress and continue to play.
Our hope is that by making mental health a normal part of day-to-day chat and removing it from that list of taboo subjects, it will appease the suffering that can go hand-in-hand with all disorders.
It may even lead to diagnosis and then the opportunity of treatment for some children.
With your help, this could become a reality even sooner than we imagined – and you could be a part of changing our kids’ futures.
DISCLAIMER: SCHOOL TRIALS ARE BEING CARRIED OUT UNDER THE SUPERVISION OF A TRAINED TEACHER AND SENCO (SPECIAL EDUCATION NEEDS COORDINATOR) REPRESENTATIVE.
THE GAME IS NOT YET ACCREDITED BY ANY AUTHORITATIVE BODY, AND WE ARE WORKING HARD TO PUT TOGETHER A RELEVANT BOARD OF PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS, WHO WILL HELP US DELIVER THE GAME IN THE MOST EFFECTIVE WAY POSSIBLE.
MENTAL HEALTH IS A DELICATE SUBJECT TO BE TACKLING, BUT THERE IS NOTHING ELSE LIKE BOOK OF BEASTIES OUT THERE & PUT SIMPLY, THERE NEEDS TO BE.
IT IS NOT A CURE, IT IS NOT AN END GAME TO MENTAL HEALTH – IT TEACHES CHILDREN THAT MENTAL DISORDERS EXIST, OFFERING A HELPING HAND (THAT THEY DIDN’T HAVE BEFORE) TO UNDERSTAND & HOPEFULLY COPE WITH SUCH ISSUES.