Caregiver with Mental Health Challenges

In Progress
Age range: 2nd grade through 5th grade.
Recommended for: Children with a parent or caregiver who is experiencing psychosis (i.e., hallucinations and/or delusions) or is otherwise behaving very unusually. Parent diagnoses of Bipolar I Disorder, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Delusional Disorder, and Major Depressive Disorder with psychotic features are all appropriate. This book is best completed in small doses with a therapist or a caregiver who is not symptomatic.
Age range: Preschool through 1st grade.
Recommended for: Exclusively for young children with parents or caregivers with Bipolar I Disorder who have been hospitalized or will likely need to be hospitalized. This book isn’t perfect. The mother has “happy” days and “sad” days, which isn’t an accurate representation of manic or depressive episodes for most people, and it’s just not a particularly engaging story. But it does introduce the idea of a parent having up and down moods and needing to be hospitalized. Its primary message is that no matter what, the child is loved by their parent with bipolar disorder, and they will be taken care of even if their parent with bipolar disorder is not always able to take care of them.

Up and Down Mom

Written and illustrated by Summer Maçon
Age range: Preschool through 2nd grade.
Recommended for: Young children who have a parent with Bipolar I Disorder who need reassurance that they are not alone in their experience. The book is probably more reassuring to parents reading it than the children intended to be the audience, but it can be used to open conversations about how a child feels when a parent acts erratically, is unavailable, or is in the hospital, as well as conversations about emergency planning (e.g., who they can contact if they’re worried about their parent or themselves and who will take care of them if a parent is unable to). It’s not a great book, but there’s not much better out there.
Age range: Best for 1st grade through 3rd grade, but adequately applicable to kindergarteners through 4th grade.
Recommended for: Children with parents (or other caregivers) who have mood disorders will benefit from the developmentally appropriate explanations and reassurances this book provides. It’s part workbook, with opportunities for a child to draw and write about their feelings, questions, and experiences related to having a parent with depression. Great for family members, therapists, and/or school counselors to complete with a child whose parent is struggling with depression. Includes a section on hospitalization.
Age range: Preschool through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This adorable story is great for young children to read with a parent or caregiver who is struggling with their mood. This book is reassuring for both children and their parents–it teaches children that their parent’s depression isn’t the child’s fault, that their parent still loves them, and that there’s help to be had; it reminds parents that depression isn’t their fault either and that their child will continue loving them.
Age range: Kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Recommended for: This book is well-suited for a child whose parent or loved one is experiencing a depressive episode and is beginning or going through treatment. It describes the emotions that often accompany having a parent with a mood disorder, and it provides hope that a parent’s treatment will help the color return to their world. Includes hospitalization as a component of the father’s treatment.