Declan’s new book helps young people ‘take the power back’ from ‘My Monster’

A Derry man, whose counselling charity has helped hundreds of children, has written a new book to help young people face their ‘monster.’

Friday, 20th August 2021, 11:34 am
Declan Harrigan
Declan Harrigan

Declan Harrigan is originally from Derry, but has been living in Scotland for the last 10 years.

In 2015, he has set up S.M.I.L.E, which stands for Support, Motivate, Inspire, Lead to self-determination and Empowerment.

Declan has over 20 years’ experience working with the most vulnerable young people in both Ireland and Scotland and S.M.I.L.E has grown rapidly in the past six years.

He told the Journal how his new children’s book, titled ‘My Monster’ was ‘born in the middle of the night in 2018.’

“As I lay awake, I wondered how to support my younger clients, who quite often were anxious about coming in to see me.

“Counselling can be a very daunting thing and difficult to understand. Most people rely on images from movies, TV and media as a guide, but if truth be told, it’s not like this at all. I never considered publishing the story until we experienced COVID and I witnessed the increased concerns over children’s mental wellbeing in this time, this urged me to revisit the story.”

S.M.I.L.E counselling, which offers a free, safe and non-judgemental space to 10–26-year-olds across West Lothian who are facing challenges with their mental health and wellbeing, saw a huge increase in demand in the first half of 2021, as young children dealt with the impact of the pandemic.

In the first six months, it has offered 61% more appointments compared to the same timeframe in 2020, with a total of 1,273 sessions.

Declan outlined how the aim of the book is to show that ‘no matter what your monster is: be it anxiety, bullying, abuse, bereavement, etc., and no matter what age you are, we all have the ability to take the power back through therapeutic support.’

“Of course, no monster completely disappears. It stays with us and we learn from it. This book is designed to assist everyone to become more aware of their own monsters. We know they exist, but they don’t have to be in control. Through openness, support and care for ourselves, we can hold our monsters in our hands, rather than them overshadowing us.”

Declan hopes that the book will empower and support children.

“I truly hope that children find this book to be helpful in becoming more aware of their monsters and in control of them. Likewise I hope that for parents / guardians and those who work with children it will help with initiating the conversation with your children around their hidden monsters and bringing them to the surface to deal with safely.”

Declan paid tribute to everyone who supported him in making the project a reality.

“I would like to say a huge thank you to Jake Biggin, who’s illustrations brought the story to life, the proof readers and those who provided testimonials of support.”

The book has already sold internationally in Australia, New Zealand and America and a per centage of the sales will go to S.M.I.L.E Counselling.

If you would like to purchase a copy, it is available on Amazon and in Little Acorns Book Store here in Derry.