How Bookbug Can Support Positive Mental Health
Positive mental health is important for everyone: babies, children, and adults. Using stories, songs and rhymes can help support and promote positive mental health in families, and also strengthen family relationships. Joining in with songs and stories can provide families with a much-needed break from other stresses in life and encourage a few minutes of laughter and 'tuned in' attention.
When parents and children spend time tuned in together, this has a positive impact on the child’s mental health because the child feels engaged, respected and important. Likewise, when parents or carers see the positive effects of these activities on their children, this helps them to feel good about their role as reader, or singer.
When families are rhyming, singing and sharing stories, they are developing their own rhythms and becoming more connected
There’s also a proven scientific reason why activities like these help us feel connected to each other. The science of communicative musicality highlights the importance of sharing stories, songs and rhymes as tools to help us learn to communicate with others. When families are rhyming, singing and sharing stories, they are developing their own rhythms. Once these rhythms are developed, families are more connected and have a better understanding of each other. This is a biological way of strengthening relationships and ensuring that positive bonds are developed.
During these moments of bonding, the body is also producing a hormone called oxytocin. Oxytocin aids in connecting us to others and also helps us to feel calm and relaxed. This has a positive impact on the mental health of everyone involved.
Sharing books and talking about the pictures and the story can also help babies and children make sense of the world, and their experiences. It’s a safe way to explore feelings, and to learn how to manage emotions and situations. Reading stories also helps us develop empathy, which can support positive mental health.
Several families have written to us recently to explain how Bookbug has had a positive impact on their lives. It has provided them with tools to help them bond with their children when they have needed them the most. One family dealing with post-natal depression said:
'[Bookbug is the] best thing ever! My daughter has post-natal depression so I have temporary kinship care. It has helped my daughter bond with her baby. She loves sessions at the library but the best thing is the CD - she screams when it finishes.'
The Bookbug programme encourages every family to take a few minutes a day to share a story, song or rhyme together. We believe that sharing a moment tuned in together can have a positive impact on the mental health of parents, children and babies alike.
According to the NHS, 1 in 10 women and 1 in 25 fathers will experience post-natal depression. There are plenty of websites that can offer more information and signposting about post-natal depression. The NHS website is a great place to start, as is the Parenting Across Scotland website. For more general support or information about mental health, visit The Scottish Association for Mental Health.