Rocky Books - Mental Health Resource for Kids

by Sheena Vassiliades in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

Rocky Books - Mental Health Resource for Kids

£570

£1,000 target 19 days left
56% 13 supporters
Keep what you raise – this project will receive all pledges made by 9th November 2021 at 8:47am

Invest in children’s mental health & trauma healing and help us kickstart Rocky Books!

by Sheena Vassiliades in London, Greater London, United Kingdom

Invest in children’s mental health & trauma healing and help us kickstart Rocky Books! 

Rocky Books are micro storybooks that illustrate a traumatic scenario, and then follow up with  appropriate coping mechanisms or exercises prescribed by a qualified psychologist and family therapist that children can learn and use themselves in similar future situations.

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Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, UN Women has reported a huge increase in calls to domestic violence hotlines in many countries, as well as an increase in reports of domestic violence. The UN is calling this the “Shadow Pandemic.”

Due to the lockdowns and uncertainty across the globe, many families are involuntarily cooped up at home together, resulting in increased stress, and unfortunately, cases of domestic violence. Parents are working from home. Instead of spending a huge chunk of their day at school, kids are forced to learn from home too. 

While global resources have pivoted to fighting the COVID-19 battle on all fronts, including resources previously allocated to women’s health and safety, many organisations, like UN Women, have also placed their focus on helping women victims of domestic violence. 

Unfortunately, a huge section of the world population have been left out in these efforts - children.

Evidence based research within the field of psychiatry suggests that witnessing intra/inter familial abuse can have the same long-term impact as experiencing abuse firsthand. While it is incredibly important to support women victims during this time, we can’t forget the effects the increased rates of domestic violence are having on the children involved. Kids growing up in abusive households can show symptoms of PTSD, anxiety, and depression well into adulthood. Early experiences can affect future relationships and more often than not repeat itself by modelling behaviour into future families. If domestic violence is occurring in 1 in 3 households globally, that’s a huge percentage of the future generation growing up with mental health issues, sadly often overlooked. 

This is why we think Rocky Books is a vital resource for the forgotten victims of domestic violence - children.

This is how Rocky Books works:

  • A writer (Nida) writes a short story demonstrating a common scenario that occurs in the home. 

  • The psychologist (Sheena) looks at the scene and recommends an exercise that best fits the needs of the child. 

  • Then, an illustrator (Arpita) draws the whole thing up into a micro-book for dissemination on digital and print platforms.

What we’re using the money for

We’re running a pilot of 4 stories and exercises to gauge interest from the community and to prove that this is a resource that is vital for children growing up in a pandemic. 

  • We need to pay our illustrators and graphic designers for their work. Our illustrated stories are of the highest quality for digital and print. 

  • We need to pay for branding (logo, design, etc.)

  • We need to pay for website expenses, including hosting and email hosting.

  • Translating all our content into as many languages as possible.

What will happen after the pilot

We are hoping to get funding, either through grants, commissions, or crowdfunding to continue making Rocky Books. We are entirely committed to making Rocky Books a voice for children and families who are often unheard & disregarded. 

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: How will kids get access to your micro-books?

A: Our first step will be sharing the micro-books on Instagram, as posts and as reels. With roughly one billion monthly active users, Instagram belongs to the most popular social networks worldwide. The social photo sharing app is especially popular in India and in the United States, which have respectively 180 million and 170 million Instagram users each. In the United States, the number of Instagram users is projected to surpass 120 million MAU in 2023.

We will also have PDF and ebook versions of all micro-books available for download and print. This way, organisations, teachers, parents, social workers, community leaders, babysitters will be able to share Rocky Books with the children in their lives. 

Other digital platforms will follow!

Q: How are little kids going to read and understand the stories?

A: A huge percentage of Instagram’s users are teens and young adults. We want parents, teachers, and older siblings to sit with the children in their lives and read Rocky Books together - like they would with any story book! We also believe that the tools in Rocky Books can be used by adults too. You’re never too old to learn how to heal. 

Q: Are Rocky Books just for kids?

A: We want to create micro-books that deal with issues faced by children as small as 3 years to teens and young adults.

Q: Are Rocky Books only available in English?

A: We definitely want to have them translated into as many languages as possible!

Q: Are Rocky Books only for Indian kids?

A: Nope. We are starting with stories centering Indian families for now because we happen to be Indian. We want to cover as many countries, languages, and cultures as possible.

Q: What about people who don’t have access to the internet?

A: All our micro-books will be available for download and print. This means that NGOs, charities, schools, doctors offices, community centres will be able to download, print, and share Rocky Books!

Q: Why is it called Rocky Books?

A: Rocky is our doggy mascot who wants to teach kids that even though things may be “rocky” at home they’re not alone! “Rocky” is also easy to say in any language :). 

Q: Do Rocky Books only tackle domestic violence issues?

A: Nope! Domestic Violence and its effects are what we are focusing on now as that is the need of the hour due to the global pandemic. We want to tackle many issues that children face that are detrimental to their short term and long term mental health. In fact, Nida initially had the idea for Rocky Books as a response to the international refugee crisis! We can use the Rocky Books model for children affected by displacement, war, natural disaster, bullying, trafficking, substance misuse etc. 

Q: Is this a resource only for girls?

A: Nope! Rocky Books are for all children regardless of gender. We also do not portray the abusers only as men, as anyone of any gender can be an abuser, including women. 

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WHO WE ARE

Nida Sheriff, Director of Operations and Stories & Rocky Books Co-Founder

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Nida is a writer, producer, consultant & social entrepreneur based in Bangalore, India. Previously Nida was Manager at Chayn India, the regional chapter of CHAYN, and member of CHAYN’s executive team. At CHAYN she managed the launch of chaynindia.com, managed partnerships, volunteers, and various projects like the DIY Online Safety Guide and How To Build Your Own Domestic Violence Case Without A Lawyer Toolkit. 

With Chayn India, Nida co-founded SnapCounsellors, an award-winning micro-counselling service pilot on the Snapchat platform. SnapCounsellors was created to offer mental health help to teens on Snapchat, using technology to make mental health counselling more accessible. SnapCounsellors made waves across the globe and was featured in Tech in Asia, Teen Vogue, Bento, Buzzfeed and many more international publications. In 2018, for her work on SnapCounsellors and Chayn India, Nida received a Woman Economic Forum Award for Women of Exceptional Excellence & a Digital Women Award from SheThePeople for Social Impact.

While working in the social tech x domestic violence space, and interacting with survivors of domestic violence and the refugee crisis from around the world, Nida noticed that children were often left out of critical services and tools. Thus, the idea for Rocky Books was born! 

Sheena Vassiliades, Director of Psychology/Advisor & Rocky Books Co-Founder

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Sheena is our Psychology Advisor based in London, UK. Sheena has experience as a Functional Family Therapist, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Substance Misuse Specialist, Youth and Gangs Worker, and Sexual Health Advisor. 

She is extremely passionate about working with individuals/families that have come to face various difficulties whilst trying to live, including (but not limited to) drug abuse, domestic violence, mental health challenges, gang affiliation, violent sexual behaviour, death. 

Whilst completing her masters in Forensic Psychology, she worked in a high category adult male prison (HMP Pentonville, London UK) delivering 1-1 drug counselling and group therapy. She moved on to work with youth carrying out early intervention and prevention therapy (drug & crime related). Her interest piqued and her skills constantly developing, she began delivering family therapy to whole families as a unit, rather than focusing on adults/youth individually. Having worked with adults, youth and now families with adults, youth and children all in one has opened her eyes to the importance of upbringing and how it affects every person on their journey of survival. 

Recently having a child of her own has further helped Sheena understand how malleable the human mind can be and how very important it is for us to receive support from our earliest days. The lack of which can be detrimental to our basic need to survive. To sum it all up, this is what Sheena does – gently guide her fellow beings over multiple hurdles on our paths of survival. And she loves what she does! 

Arpita Sawant, Illustrator

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Arpita is an independent visual artist, designer and dreamer based out of Mumbai, India. Her design practice involves documenting all that is imaginative, heartfelt, human. As a visual story-teller; the only thing she likes more than reading about eccentric characters and experiences, is drawing them. 

Arpita has also recently had a children’s story book released! 



References:

https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2021/7/faq-women-and-covid-19-in-india

https://www.unwomen.org/en/digital-library/publications/2020/05/impact-of-covid-19-on-violence-against-women-and-girls-and-service-provision

https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/in-focus-gender-equality-in-covid-19-response/violence-against-women-during-covid-19

https://www.statista.com/statistics/325587/instagram-global-age-group/ 

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