Rochdale psychology service publishes book for children to understand their own brains and mental health

Date published: 17 November 2021

Rochdale social enterprise Beyond Psychology has published its first children’s book, Brian the Brain, to help children and younger people understand their emotional and mental health.

Penned by Dr Louise Mansell, a child clinical psychologist who co-founded Beyond, and her eldest son, Samuel, Brian the Brain began as a homeschooling project during the 2020 lockdown, whilst Louise and Samuel, then eight, were producing their Science of Emotions show on YouTube.

The book, which is self-published and illustrated by family friend, Jackson Dean, explains how our brains work in an accessible way, conveying Brian’s feelings through different colours, which has roots in neuroscience.

Using a three-system model of the brain’s emotions and behaviour, children will be able to relate to and understand how their brains work, based on Brian’s colouring.

Samuel said: “I wanted to write the book with my mum as I thought it would be nice to write a book. I think everyone should know about the brain, so they know what is happening for people, and then they can help. I wanted it to be funny too, so people would like it. I hope you do too.”


Samuel Mansell signs his book, Brian the Brain, which he co-wrote with his mum


Dr Mansell said: “I believe that when we understand people, we see the complexity and beauty of the human mind. From this, we can be kinder to ourselves and those around us, and then we will see a social impact on a level beyond anything we can achieve alone.

“I would like to thank all the children and families I’ve met on my journey as a clinical psychologist, and my own family, friends and colleagues for the continued support they have shown, whatever idea I have presented them with, including this one, which was of course helped along by my wonderful, busy and funny son.”

Prof Paul Gilbert. PhD, FBPsS, OBE, Compassionate Mind Foundation, who developed the three-system model, added: “For most of us older folks, we were never taught about how our minds work, how they can be difficult to understand or work with.

“This is gradually changing, and we recognise it is vital that we help children understand their minds and how they can begin to cultivate them in ways that promote wellbeing to themselves and others.

“This beautifully illustrated book on the nature of different types of emotion is a wonderful contribution to that effort.”

A not-for-profit social enterprise, Beyond was set up and founded by chartered clinical psychologists, Dr Kirsty Hughes and Dr Louise Mansell in March 2017.

Funded by schools, social care, the NHS and parents, the Beyond Psychology service has worked in the public sector with the NHS CAMHS (child and adolescent mental health services), schools and children’s services as well as working alongside occupational therapists, social workers, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, speech and language therapists, and mental health nurses.

Copies of the book can be picked up at Beyond’s new offices at 106 Yorkshire Street, Rochdale, OL16 1JY, and ordered online via the Brian the Brain website.

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