Did you know that anxiety and depression isn’t just something adults face? Approximately 4.4 million children between the ages of 3 and 17 have been diagnosed with anxiety and approximately 1.9 million have been diagnosed with depression. Rates of childhood depression and anxiety have been rising in the last several years and yet there is little information and awareness surrounding it. In fact many adults still believe that children ‘can’t get depressed. When depressed or anxious your child may not have the expressive abilities to talk about their emotions. Children may also not be able to explain why they are suddenly crying. In Maya Johnson’s children’s book, It’s Okay the main character, Ivy, learns to express how depression affects her with the help of her parents who teach her a simple phrase: “It’s okay.”
Through conversations about expression, Ivy’s mom and Dad help her understand what she’s feeling and accept that it is okay to not be okay.
My seven year old daughter could relate to Ivy’s story. As an adopted child I have notice over the years anxiety emerge in my daughter. Studies show that the rate of anxiety and depression in adopted kids is more than double that of children who are not adopted. I have also been away from my daughter for ten months due to Covid and the need for me to care for my adult disabled daughter. This of course has a huge impact on my younger daughter. Miss P really enjoyed It’s Okay and often when I am having a bad day she reminds me of the book and says mommy it’s Ok.
As a parent we all need to be prepared to take care of our children’s illness no matter how big or small. That includes our child(ren)’s mental illness. Johnson recognizes this and reminds us all that it is ok not to be ok. There should be no shame or stigma surrounding mental illness.Thank you Maya for reminding us that our children need our emotional support, and we need to teach them how to identify their emotions.
I highly recommend |It’s Okay” by Maya Johnson to all parents of children age 6 and up. It makes the perfect holiday gift. While children may be spared the direct effects of Covid 19 the indirect impact that it is having on their overall mental health needs now more than ever to be recognized. They need to know “it’s ok.”
As a long-time child caretaker and a mother of three children, promoting the mental well-being of all children through the powerful illustrations and storytelling in It’s Okay is something Maya Johnson has been striving towards for years.
About the Author
MAYA JOHNSON is a young, married, stay-at-home mom of three young children. She grew up in the city of Memphis, TN where she attended Cordova High School. Throughout her years in high school, Maya ran track and field and cross country. After graduating high school, she moved to Knoxville, TN where she obtained an Associate’s Degree in Chemistry from Pellissippi State Community College and a Bachelor’s Degree in Chemistry from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Maya has enjoyed working with children, including working in daycares, being a camp counselor, and being a nanny. One of her passions is drawing. She has been drawing for years and has always dreamed of writing and illustrating her first children’s book.