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A Mind like Mine: 21 famous people and their mental health

Authored by Rachael Davis
Illustrated by Islenia Mil
Published by Quarto Publishing Group, Wide Eyed Editions

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A Mind like Mine: 21 famous people and their mental health written by Rachael Davis and illustrated by Islenia Mil is a much-needed book that has been written to help children normalise discussions around mental health and well-being.  Supported with a foreword by Randi Silverman, founder of the Youth Mental Health Project, this book offers a timeline of mini biographies from a bevy of famous people throughout history and their experiences of living with a range of mental health conditions.

A Mind like Mine offers a glimpse into the mental health of 21 well-known historical figures such as Florence Nightingale, Nicola Tesla, Andrew Flintoff, Michelle Obama and Alok Vaid-Menon.  Davis also offers useful ‘spotlight’ pages on a range of mental health topics such as bipolar, OCD, PTSD, eating disorders and others which offer opportunities for reflection and discussion. There is a particularly useful section entitled ‘Spotlight on Talking about Mental Health’ where there is a table of phrases to use and phrases to avoid when talking about mental health to evade stigma and marginalisation.

Davis is open in the introduction that she has written this book as a tool for others as she, herself, has lived with anxiety and found it difficult to find any literature reflecting others who were also living with this mental health condition.  The links and support from the US-based, grassroots, non-profit organisation Mental Health Project are also welcomed –  The organisation’s mission is ‘to educate, empower and support families and communities to better understand and care for the mental health of our youth.’  More links for help and support are provided in the conclusion of the book.

The compelling illustrative style of Afro-Latina, NYC-based artist Islenia Mil adds depth to the composition of the book.  Her original depictions of the different people spotlighted across history brings to life their accomplishments and achievements and also reflects an undertone of both power and vulnerability.  It would be an interesting study alongside reading the book to analyse the images provided and to gather clues about each person’s life and contributions to the arts, science and other fields explored in the book.

With stunning illustrations to engage the reader, A Mind like Mine is an essential read for any upper primary or lower secondary classroom and could become the catalyst for invigorating conversation and strengthening knowledge of the importance of mental health.