With more and more children seeking psychological help, Matt Haig is one of a wave of authors trying to reach troubled youngsters with stories

Matt Haig is feeling hopeful. His first ever illustrated story, The Truth Pixie, is published in the UK on Thursday – and he is optimistic it will encourage young children to talk about their anxieties. “It’s a book I want parents to share with their children – a read-aloud bedtime story,” Haig says. “Bedtime is a time when children’s heads are full of fears, and those don’t go away by just ignoring them. They go away by talking about them, externalising them and dealing with them.”

While his books for children are usually full of jokes, Haig’s bestselling non-fiction titles for adults, Reasons to Stay Alive and Notes on a Nervous Planet, both explore his own struggles with mental illness. He says The Truth Pixie is “Reasons to Stay Alive for seven-year-olds – but with trolls and elves and silly jokes thrown in”.

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Mental health is a level of psychological well-being, or an absence of a mental disorder; it is the "psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment".

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17 November 2018