Literature can a Literal Life-Saver (pun intended)
In her article “Literature as a Lifeline: How Stories and Genetic Testing Can Save Lives from Mental Illness,” Kristen Davis Schwandes talks about how she was able to recognize signs of depression in fiction. She says that identifying with a character’s struggles with mental illness helped her make synthesize her own depression.
I believe that we can easily teach children, parents, and teachers how to notice aspects of literature that increase knowledge of well-being skills. Bibliotherapy is a well regarded avenue used to cope with depression, anxiety, and PTSD that is already being used by the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs. One U.K. nonprofit called ReLit is researching new ways to apply bibliotherapy. The concept of bibliotherapy may seem odd to the uninitiated but the reason it works is indisputable ~~~ we learn by reading.
The point is that reading is not a passive activity. Further, if the bibliotherapy process well taught to parents, teachers, and students, reading can be employed as an active healing activity for very young people.
Optimism is a skill, not simply a personality bent. The NIMH shares that “a significant body of research has been carried out about the effectiveness of optimism as a psychological phenomenon,” and Seligman’s Positive Psychology Center researches well-being. Some use the Learned Optimism Test for a first step to begin the process of building well-being skills.
In the mean time, we could easily use simple bibliotherapy concepts combined with well-being focused bookmarks. We can make our own bookmarks with concepts to look for such as self-care, gratitude, compassion, rest, being in nature, forgiveness, hydration, self-control… Let’s do this!