Davey the Deer is the first book in the Healthy Mind Series created by Rosaleigh Neal, French Immersion teacher, and Dr. Grace Vitale, a Registered Psychologist. Both work in the Catholic school system in Ontario. They created this children’s series because it was important to bring mental health to the forefront in the school system. These books hope to spread awareness about mental health and to promote ongoing discussion in the schools, family, and community. It is important that we recognize the signs of depression especially in today’s youth. Students should be encouraged to talk to their parents so that help can be provided. Professionals are there to listen, but without the initial exposure, parents may not be aware how depression reveals itself (especially in a young child).
Davey the Deer shows a deer getting ready for his everyday routine and going to school. He isn’t too hungry, he doesn’t feel like laughing with his family, and he doesn’t care that he didn’t study for his test that day. He is going through the motions and he’s just not happy. On his walk to school, he meets up with a good friend, but even that doesn’t seem to help his mood. There was no positive feeling in Davey that day. He was just feeling down. Unfortunately, this was not the first time that he felt that way. Everything he used to care about just didn’t really matter much anymore.
After his test, Davey wanted to go home to sleep. He asked his teacher to call his mom. He had been doing quite a bit of sleeping lately. Finally, he asked his mom, “Why do I feel sad some days?” His mom knew it was time to talk to their doctor. After seeking her help, Dr. Winston suggested that another professional may be what Davey needed. As the days go by, Davey begins to get back a little bit of his old self – he starts to care about his friend’s feelings and he has an appetite again. The story doesn’t end with a perfect fairytale ending, but that is realism at its best. Depression isn’t an instant fix. It does take time and a strong network of family, friends, and professionals, for improvement. I’m glad this book is out there. Davey the Deer is a good gateway to mental health discussion. (My girls, 5 and 7, each read the book on their own and we had a talk about depression and moods after. They both enjoyed reading the book and look forward to the next one in the series.)
For more information on the Healthy Minds Series, please visit their Facebook page.