Hampshire CAMHS launches new book sharing young people’s experiences of lockdown and the pandemic

Letters from the Belly of the Whale: Connecting Through Covid, is a book containing letters written by children and young people, documenting what the Covid-19 pandemic has been like for them. Profits from the sales will be donated to Heads On and used as charitable funds to support families and young people through Hampshire CAMHS.

Hampshire Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS), who provide specialist mental health services for children and young people across the county, reached out in March 2020 to young people via their schools, youth organisations and social media, inviting them to write a letter to share what their own personal experience of the pandemic and lockdown was like for them. The hope was that publishing the letters would help bring people together and to feel less alone with what they have experienced, and to find some comfort in having the opportunity to voice how challenging this time has been for them.

Close to 100 letters were received, each sharing a personal experience of what it was like for the individual, what they had learnt, and what made the experience unique for them. The book title is inspired by one of the letters received, where the individual compared lockdown to the story of Jonah who was swallowed into the belly of the whale.

Helen Dove, Innovation and Participation Lead for Hampshire CAMHS, said: “At a time when the country was closed down overnight, creating disconnection, fear, uncertainty, confusion and loneliness, it felt more important than ever to hear from our young people how this was impacting them. We were all experiencing a once in a lifetime event so it seemed vital that this wide range of experiences was captured and shared to inform and connect.

“Creative writing is a great way to express yourself, and explore and process your feelings, which can really help with our mental health and wellbeing.

“The experience has been humbling, exciting, and challenging, bringing both tears and laughter. I am personally grateful to have had the privilege of reading every letter received and I am so thankful to every person who took the time to write and submit a letter, bravely sharing their experience of this difficult time.”

Profits raised from the sale of the book will be donating to Heads On and will be used by Hampshire CAMHS to help children and young people who are struggling with their mental health. To find out more about the services Hampshire CAMHS provide, go to their website. To find out more about Heads On and the work they do across Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, click here

To purchase a copy of the book, visit P&G Wells website here

How you can help

Whether you make a donation, attend an event or fundraise for us, every penny will help make life better for people with mental health problems.