I recently collaborated with my friend from school, Wan Ching, to provided some information on the work of a counsellor and about mental health awareness. Using this opportunity, we decided to slant the interview to address feelings, in a way that is relatable to young children. The play discussed the intense bushfires in Australia and we thought it was a good chance for speaking about trauma and grief with children.
The “Kids Stay Home” project which Wan Ching has been working hard on since the lockdown/ circuit-breaker days involved producing home-made tiny theatre clips for children aged 6 to 12. She uses props from home or those made with reused, up-cycled, recycled material to produce tiny sets for the setting of different theatre pieces and she works with different freelance artists to work on a variety of topics.
It was my first attempt at recording myself speaking about mental health issues and I definitely outside of my elements. Spending time thinking through and crafting my lines, rehearsing and eventually recording myself were challenging yet refreshing. I saw meaning in the work that I had signed up for but I was excessively worried about the quality of my video and the ideas I was communicating.
Eventually, I decided to aim for good enough instead of perfection, to steer myself away from performance anxiety. Wan Ching was truly supportive and accommodating and I was glad that my work was accepted!
Watch this tiny theatre as Korey the Koala remembers and mourns the friends he lost in the fires while his neighbour Mr Scoots makes plans to move on. You will find my own recordings towards the end of the clip.
I decided to share what I spoke about in the video here as well. I hope this clips lends you some language to speak to young children about trauma and grief.
I am a counsellor. I listen to people talk about things and problems that bother them; I talk to them about their lives and also their feelings when they are stressed. I enjoy my work very much because I like to help people.
Why did you choose to do this work?
I do this work because I think it is important that people who feel lonely or sad have someone to help them. Sometimes, people find it difficult to talk about their problems with their family, friends, or teachers and they often can be helped when they speak to a counsellor.
Mental Health Awareness
Mental health awareness is getting people to know and to understand that being healthy means taking care of our bodies and our minds and emotions. It is important for all of us to pay attention to our mental health because sometimes our problems are not very obvious. When we know more about mental health, we can take care of it when we can get help when we or our loved ones need it.
What is trauma? What is grief?
When something horrible happens and we feel very distressed or disturbed, there could have been trauma. Grief is a reaction, when we experience loss or death around us. Like the forest fires in Australia where many koalas died and many people lost their homes, it can be considered traumatic and we could experience grief. When there is trauma or grief, we may feel different emotions like sadness, anger, helplessness, shock. We may think that the world is a dangerous place. Or we may have difficulties sleeping or have many nightmares. Everyone is different and it is normal that we react differently. What matters is what we do with our feelings.
Sometimes I get worried or fearful when I think about the future, about environmental destruction, disease and climate change. Do you have any advice?
When I feel worried or scared, I would talk to people whom I feel safe speaking too, like my family and my friends. For children, it could be an adult you feel safe talking about feelings and asking the questions you have in your mind about the situations. For issues like environmental destruction, disease and climate change, what I do is to find out more about situation by reading and discussing, and then I choose actions that are within my means that I know can make a difference, even just a tiny bit. Like stopping the use of disposable utensils or donating to a charity. This is especially important when we feel helpless: taking action to do something that we believe matters. Remember, you and what you do matters.