There are many (children's) books that can help with understanding the suffering of mentally ill and addicted people.
We have compiled helpful literature on the subject for you, including children's books, books for parents, current specialist books and informative brochures:
Some examples of books on the subject can also be found here:
- Annika's andere Welt (Annika's Other World)
"Annikas andere Welt – Das Bilder-Erzählbuch" ("Annika's Other World – The Picture Storybook") for children of mentally ill parents helps children and their trusted figures to find their way in a difficult family environment. Interactive pages also invite them to write or draw their own situation. Suitable for children aged approximately 8+.
- Sonnige Traurigtage (Sunny Sad Days)
Lovingly illustrated specialist children's book for children of mentally ill parents and their support figures. Lately, something's been different with Mum: she's so powerless and depressed. Mona reacts to these "sad days" like many children of mentally ill parents: she suppresses feelings of anger or sadness, takes on more and more responsibility, and longs for happy "sunny days". Only when Mona confides in a support figure does she learn that her mother suffers from a mental illness and needs professional help. Mona then addresses essential questions directly to the child reader: What is a mental illness? Is it my fault? Who can help Mum or Dad? Who can I talk to? An emergency plan for times of crisis is also introduced. The advice section gives private and professional support figures suggestions to help affected children. Suitable for children aged 7+.
- Flaschenpost nach Irgendwo (Message in a Bottle to Somewhere)
Children of addicted parents receive support for their everyday lives through an empathetic and lovingly illustrated picture story and an age-appropriate explanation section. A guide for adult support figures and professionals completes this specialist children's book. Suitable for children aged 7+.
- Warum fahren Papas Gefühle Achterbahn? (Why Do Dad's Feelings Ride Roller Coasters?)
Children's guide to bipolar disorders: The book shows how families can cope with everyday life with appropriate help. A reading section shows children that they aren't alone in their worries about Mum or Dad. The second part of the book offers parents practical tips for family life and explanatory conversations with their children. Suitable for children aged 5+.
- Mama, Mia und das Schleuderprogramm (Mama, Mia and the Spin Cycle) (also available as a video)
Explaining borderline personality disorder to children: When a family member becomes mentally ill, it isn't just the adult relatives who are thrown off balance. Children also experience great uncertainty and seek explanations for their parent's behaviour. They often feel guilty about the situation and are very worried. It's important not to leave children alone with their distress, fears, questions and wishes. They need relief and encouragement, age-appropriate information and space for fun and games. This book contributes to that. Suitable for children aged 4+.
- Mamas Püschose (Mama's Psychosis) (reading as a video)
Explaining psychosis to children: When a parent suffers from psychosis, it's hard to explain the disturbing changes to the child. The book makes it easier to talk to children about the new situation, to take away their feelings of guilt, and to show that parents are still parents even during periods of illness.
- Nebeltage, Glitzertage (Foggy Days, Sparkly Days) (reading as a video)
Explaining bipolar disorders to children: The book vividly and lovingly describes the emotional roller coaster caused by their mother's bipolar disorder from the perspective of two siblings.
- Die Wunschperle (The Wish Pearl)
The influence of mental illness on siblings: A colourful, cheerful and sensitive comic book with a lot of empathy on the complex subject of "mental illness". Suitable for children aged 5+.
- "Und wer fragt mich?" podcast - Improving support for children of mentally ill parents and their families
This was a joint project of the AFET Federal Association for Educational Assistance with the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychosomatics and Neurology (DGPPN) and the DGSF, created in collaboration with speech therapist Alexander Kunze. Across four episodes, we hear from those affected and the disciplines involved, discussing how support can be improved. The podcast is available on Soundcloud and Spotify.
- "angehören (belonging)" podcast - for families of mentally ill people
This podcast is a joint production of the Upper Bavarian Initiative for Families of Mentally Ill People and the Munich Action Community of Families of Mentally Ill People, their Friends and Supporters. It is aimed at the families of mentally ill people and anyone interested in the topic. It features conversations with family members who share their stories: parents, siblings, partners and adult children recount their experiences and their way of dealing with the situation. Various aspects of self-help are covered, such as visiting and founding a group or political advocacy and contact points for advice. Experts also have their say. They give tips for self-care and how to deal with difficult situations and stressful feelings. The Podcast is available on all common podcast platforms.
Various (short) films on the subject of mental illness and addiction can also contribute to understanding of those affected. We provide links to some of them here:
- LILLI (Trailer and Film)(filmArche)
Whenever Mum is sick – and this has been happening more and more often lately – Lilli (9) has to look after her brother Paul (6) and make sure nobody in the neighbourhood and at school realises that not everything is right at home. When the heating fails and it gets colder and colder in the apartment, Lilli no longer knows what to do. If only Mum would finally get better...
- "Was ist bloß zu Hause los?" ("What's going on at home?") - Support for children with mentally ill parents(Caritas)
Children want to orient themselves towards their parents and need them to be reliable. Parents with mental impairments/illnesses also want to be good parents to their children. However, these parents often find it difficult to be reliable and empathetic when they themselves are too insecure, anxious or depressed. Many children then want to help their parents and become overwhelmed themselves. It is important to talk to other people about this and get support.
- Für die Angehörigen zählt der Mensch (For the relatives, it's the person who counts) (BApK e. V.)
"For relatives, it's not the illness that counts, but the person." With this message, the Federal Association of Families of People with Mental Illness (BApK e.V.) seeks to promote education and understanding among the public for those affected, and especially for their families and friends, in its anti-stigma message.
- Mein verrücktes Leben - Von starken Kindern und kranken Müttern (My Crazy Life - Strong Children and Sick Mothers) (ZDF)
What happens to a child when their mother suddenly becomes very different, lies on the couch for hours or suffers from panic attacks? How does a child process it when a parent wants to take their own life? What is the risk that a child in such difficult situations will take on too much responsibility and becomes ill themselves due to constant overload? This documentary from the 37 Grad series shows the burden on children of mentally ill mothers, but also possible ways to help and strengthen them.
- Nichts für Kinder (Nothing for Children)(Gruscha Rode)
Children bravely and openly talk about stages of life with their alcoholic parents. They don't shy away from speaking directly and candidly about their own childhood, expectations and disappointments, their feelings of guilt and fear. They describe how they had to learn to live with it and what made them strong.
- Laut gedacht mit Naema Gabriel (Thinking Out Loud with Naema Gabriel)(Freunde fürs Leben e.V.)
Naema Gabriel is the author of the young adult book "Sinus" and grew up with a mother who suffered from bipolar disorder. In "Laut gedacht", she shares her experiences and how her mother's mood swings influenced her childhood.
- Das Versprechen (The Promise)(ZDF)
Eleven-year-old Bendix tries to cope with his father Fabian's depression. When he meets the slightly older Jule, his perspective on the illness changes.
Aliya leads a kind of double life: on the outside, she is a confident teenager, but inside she feels lonely, sad and empty. She fights resolutely against her depression.