Thursday, 22 September 2016

'Hello Me, It's You' compiled by Hannah Todd

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First things first, I need to say a huge thank you to Hello Me, It's You for accepting my request to view this title on NetGalley, and to NetGalley for the service that they provide.

When my request to read this book was accepted, I'd presumed that I'd only have enough comments to write a short review on Goodreads when I finished it: at just over 100 pages, it's certainly not lengthy.
Instead I wanted to write this post and properly shine a spotlight on this non-profit organisation, and everything that they're doing to help young people who are struggling with their mental health. 

This book might be small, but it's not unsubstantial. All of the profits raised from the title are going straight to the charity, to allow them to write more supportive books in the future (this is the first title that they've released so far, but there are others in the pipeline).
Featuring 27 letters, each of the contributors writes to their 16-year-old selves, enthusing that it gets better - much like the project of the same name, but focusing on mental health rather than sexuality - and life is worth living. The authors being alive and able to write their letters is inspirational enough: all of these people have suffered and have survived, and I think that'll become a shining beacon of hope to anyone out there who is struggling.

The letter I connected the most with was definitely number 24. 
"I didn't even realise I was - was depressed, that is. I thought everyone must have suicidal thoughts. Of course everyone routinely thinks about killing themselves."
As someone who has recently met with counsellors regarding anxiety and depression, this resonated deeply with me. It's something I strongly believe, but to have someone put what I assume into words and to directly contradict it... Let's just say it's making me look at life differently.

The only critique is that it could have featured a wider range of voices: it felt as though a lot of the same themes were reoccurring (attending university being prominent throughout, expected as it began as a university project) and it would have been good to get representation for all shapes, colours and classes. I'm sure that's something that will improve as more volumes get released, because more and more people will become aware of the project and will get involved.

I'd recommend this for people of all ages, even if the letters are written with 16 year olds in mind. Parents who didn't experience mental health issues in their youth could gain some idea of what their children feel, which will teach them to be more empathetic. Young people who are struggling will get support and encouragement by reading this book, which could put them on the road to recovery. Similarly, young people who don't suffer will have their attention brought to those who do, making a more informed support network for those in need.
This project is extremely necessary, and couldn't be more timely. Earlier this year it was discovered that anxiety and depression amongst teenagers has increased by a whopping 70% in the past 25 years, and I think it's time that we take responsibility as a society and start working together to do something to help.

If you'd like to pre-order 'Hello Me, Its You' before its release date in mid-October, it's currently only £1.99 to purchase on Kindle. If you struggle with mental health issues or just want to support those who do, it's a worthy cause. Hopefully, with enough support behind it, this project could become the UK equivalent of To Write Love On Her Arms.

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