I'm Jacqui. I co-authored Comeback Kids because I was worried about how the pandemic was impacting our kids. As a kids' mental health advocate and professional writer, I couldn't find the kind of resource I needed, so I decided to write it with the hope of helping others.
My co-author, child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Frank DePietro, who serves as the medical director of the in-patient child and adolescent unit at Western Psych and a practitioner at the out-patient developmental disorders clinic, provided all of the medical expertise that forms the basis of the book. I am deeply grateful to him for sharing his incredible knowledge and for allowing me to translate his advice into this format.
We hope is that this resource helps you navigate these challenging times with greater ease.
Wishing you well -- in the coming months and always.
Why We Wrote Comeback Kids
In April 2020, I was very concerned --- and confused. I didn't know how the pandemic was going to impact my life or the life of my family. As a kids' mental health advocate and someone who has had people close to me struggle with mental health issues, I was acutely aware of the potential toll the pandemic would have on people's mental well-being.
Feeling Less Alone
As soon as I started talking to other parents about my fears, I felt less alone. It was hard at first to begin those conversations, but the payoff was worth it every time - it was reassuring to know what others were experiencing and to be able to share our stories. Even with the great unknown looming in front of us, we were able to ground ourselves a little more by communing with each other. It felt a little less scary knowing we could face it together.
Needing a Lifeline
It also felt like we needed a lifeline, a roadmap to help us navigate this uncharted "new normal." I did extensive research, and nothing quite like that seemed to exist. I wanted to create something people could lean on to help them get through. I'm a writer by trade, so a book felt like the right place to start.
Listening to Our Little Ones
While I was delighted to be talking to parents and caregivers, I wanted to hear from kids. The media rarely highlights what our littlest members of society have to say. I wanted to elevate their voices and give them a space where they could hear from their peers.
So I created a survey. It was designed to help parents and caregivers have honest conversations with their kids about how they were feeling during the pandemic. Thanks to the University of Virginia's Multilingual Outreach Volunteer Effort (MOVE) program (which translated the survey into numerous languages), nonprofits and community organizations, and through various social media platforms, I ended up getting a wide array of responses from all over the world (although most of them were from families in the United States).
Partnering with an Expert
I partnered with a child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Frank DePietro, who serves as the medical director of the in-patient child and adolescent unit at Western Psych and a practitioner at the out-patient developmental disorders clinic. He shared deeply meaningful insights based on the initial responses we got and noticed that much of what was being said echoed what he was hearing with his patients and their families.
When I started this project, I thought I was writing a children's book. What I realized after my initial conversation with Frank was that much of what the kids were saying echoed what they were hearing at home - from their parents, siblings, online and on TV. That led us to conclude that the best way to help kids through these tough times was to create a resource guide for their parents.
Creating a Roadmap
We concluded the survey in October 2020 and used the responses as the basis for the book's structure. We designed to help families navigate the multiple transitions we're experiencing. While we all recognize uncertainty is a natural part of life, the kind of collective uncertainty we have been facing since spring 2020 is unlike anything any of us has every encountered. We hope this guide serves as a useful resource to you as you make your way on this complex, challenging journey -- and that it makes you feel a little less alone.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us.
If you are concerned about your or your child's mental health and safety, contact a mental health professional immediately.