Who would have thought that an 11-year-old was interested in writing a book on mental health?
Called ‘You Are Never Alone,’ the book was both written and illustrated by Madison McDermott who is a 5th Grade Shanty Bay student. Her work will soon be distributed through the schools in Simcoe County.
The story written by Madison is based on the life of a local woman. The woman had a tough time while her parents divorced, has seen a lot of pressure in high school. She then experienced teen pregnancy and battled drug and alcohol addiction.
At only 11 years old, Madison picked a global issue in her group ‘Change Agents.’ She and her colleagues were challenged to pick an issue and try to find a way to change it:
“I wrote a book because it’s a great way to share primary prevention and it’s really accessible.”
So, she interviewed a local woman, learning about her life. This is how a piece of Madison’s writing sounds:
“When I was 18 years old, I became pregnant and had a baby girl. Sadly because of the chaos and the pain connected to my low self-esteem and addiction, life was unmanageable and I couldn’t raise my baby.”
The young writer explains that mental health is a topic that’s regular in her family. Her grandfather was a doctor, and he also battled alcoholism. Her mother, Jennifer McDermott, is a counselor:
“Our family, we talk a lot about mental health and addictions and we think it’s important to talk about it and not have the stigma.”
An Advocate for the Community
Jennifer explains that her daughter is happy to face challenges and to work hard until she reaches her goal:
“It’s been a great experience because I think she wanted to set out to create awareness and she absolutely has.”
Madison also became more aware of the problems of mental health by researching, writing and illustrating her book, says Jennifer:
“I think it’s a real understanding of mental health and addiction so that not only she can take care of herself and understand different experiences that she’ll go through so that she won’t feel alone, but she’ll also be a great resource and advocate in the community.”
The book ‘You Are Never Alone’ includes advice on how to cope with problems, subjects to talk for both parents and teachers. Madison hopes that her book will help people get this vital message:
“Know that there are many resources and that you are never alone, and also that all feelings are ok.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.