According to the CDC, only 59.3% of children ages 3-17 that have anxiety receive treatment, and only 53.5% of children with diagnosed behavioral disorders (such as ADHD) receive treatment. Jessica McConnell, ‘05, recently wrote a book that aims to help change those statistics.
Jessica’s book, “Keeping Harper Healthy,” helps parents and children become more comfortable with taking care of their mental health. In the book, Harper manages her health by seeing a physician, visiting the dentist, and speaking with a therapist.
The book helps families understand that physical and mental health are equally important. In her work as a school-based therapist, Jessica has seen firsthand the concerns that families and children have with seeking mental health services.
“I have had students tell me they worry about being teased by peers for seeing a therapist,” said Jessica, who received her master’s degree in community counseling from Mount Aloysius. “I have had students believe that something must be ‘wrong’ with them because they are seeing me.”
Writing a children’s book was always a dream of Jessica’s, but self-publishing was a difficult process–it took her over a year to get everything prepared to finally submit her book. She had help from a friend, Jason Schwartzman, who published a children’s book about managing grief. Her dad, Sam Modico, and 12-year-old son helped with illustrations.
Jessica, who also now teaches at the College, says she hopes that this book will help to normalize therapy, and help to teach children that it is always okay to ask for help.
“I believe that the more we normalize mental health struggles, the more people will seek help.”
Jessica credits her studies at Mount Aloysius College with helping her succeed, not just in her career as a school-based therapist, but in life. “My professors in the Community Counseling Master’s Program have supported me from day one and even now, five years after graduation. They taught me how to overcome my own doubts and find a way to reach my goals, which is the core of what we do as therapists.”