Help Your Child Understand & Manage Their Everyday Worries & Anxiety (with the Help of Melva Mapletree)

 This is an April 2021 advertisement. Any subsequent shares of this post have not been asked or paid for. Melva image credits : Mortal Fools. I am not a Mental Health professional, please consult your GP if you have any concerns. 

Help Your Child Understand & Manage Their Everyday Worries & Anxiety (with the Help of Melva Mapletree)

Melva online is a fun mental health resource, suitable for children aged 7-11 (and their families) to support their wellbeing and better understand and manage their everyday worries during what has been a very chaotic time for us all. 



What is Melva Mapletree and the Quest for Barnabas Boggle? 



Melva Mapletree and the Quest for Barnabas Boggle is an online, interactive storytelling game aimed at children aged 7-11 (and their family) to explore, understand and manage their everyday worries, niggling doubts and anxiety.

Mental Health issues are on the rise amongst young people and this game has been designed as an at-home (or school) resource to enable children to understand, talk about and explore their mental health and worries. Key components include: 

  • the use of accessible and child-friendly (but not condescending) language 
  • ideas for practical strategies plus resources and activities to try for managing worries and anxiety 
  • addresses mental health stigma and encourages open and honest conversation both between children and with the adults in their lives
  • the use of relatable characters and interactive storytelling which puts the user in charge 

What happens during the game? 




The game in its most basic form, is an online self-guided interactive story. Kind of like a choose your own adventure story but around the theme of childhood anxieties. 

You play the role of Gideon, who is the lead character Melva's inner (and often niggling) voice. Gideon needs a break and heads off to Blackpool for the week leaving you in charge of Melva's brain. It is your job to keep her 'worrits' (or worries) in check. 

Watch the video below to get an idea of how the game works. 



Once you have taken control of Melva's brain, you travel through various familiar scenarios, explore Melva's feelings and decide what actions to take. Scenes include the school yard, a cafe, home and a sweet shop. 

You will hear familiar everyday worries (eg a friend not turning up to meet you at the time they said they would) and through clicking around the various scenes and associated activities, will learn a few strategies for managing these thoughts and feelings. 

Throughout the game, there is a 'worrit' (or worry) meter in the corner which increases when Melva is feeling anxious and decreases when Melva's anxieties ease. 

As you progress through the game, you will discover that there are four key elements: 

Interactive Storytelling 


There are 10 main 'levels' to work through and each player can save their progress at the end of each level. Each level deals with a different issue yet follows the same ongoing story. 

Each level takes place in a familiar setting (eg the school yard). You listen to Melva's thoughts and click on various objects / choose paths to follow. Some objects allow the game to progress (eg move to another level), others share an idea for easing 'worrits' and worries and some objects are part of the story or simply for fun (eg you can make Melva choose to eat Fart flavoured sweets)

You feel fully in charge as a player and get to choose what to click on and what actions to take throughout. You are also very aware of the 'worrit' meter in the corner. 

This game does deal with serious issues but the beautiful animation, lush local accents and relatable characters really help to keep things light and as you play, it does not feel serious yet you are actually dealing with a serious topic. It's very clever! 

There are lots of animal friends to meet too which add a light-hearted touch and will keep kids engaged/ laughing along. We loved Stuart the 'fancy' horse, the clucking chickens and of course Feggis the mountain goat. 

I would recommend playing 1 or 2 levels at a time so you do not become overwhelmed and can take everything in properly. 

Video Activities 



At various points in the game, there are linked video activities which allow you to explore an issue which has been discussed further. For these activities you will need your activity book or a piece of paper and a pen/pencil. Activities are usually pretty short and involve drawing your own feelings or something practical like trying laughter therapy.  

Our favourite activity for a gratitude exercise with Feggis - Dee decided straight away that they were grateful for chocolate. 


Games 



There are a few pop-up games included in the game too which are based on the story but are there for added fun. We loved the whack-a-mole style worrit game and it did get a bit competitive as we tried to beat our high scores. The games break the learning material up really well. 

Activity Booklet / Extension Activities 

With the game you are sent a complimentary Activity Booklet in PDF form. You can play the game without the booklet and it isn't essential but the extra activities are excellent and I would certainly recommend having a look. 

Activity Booklet example - Copyright Mortal Fools



Now I am a typical millennial and do not have a printer at home but that's fine as the activities have been created in a way where you can just use your own pen and paper if needed. 

The activities are brilliant and include: 
  • Pack Your Rucksack Drawing 
Fill your school rucksack with pictures of items which might help you if you feel a little worried at school (there are ideas provided in the main game as a prompt for this)

  • Character Factfiles
Interesting facts about the different characters in the game and an activity to create your own factfile about you. 
  • What-if Writing Challenge 
A task which deals with understanding how we can often catastrophise events and how to think about changing this. 

This is just a selection of the activities on offer and there is also a certificate at the end. 

Let's talk about Feggis 



I honestly think the star of the Melva universe is Feggis the Mountain Goat. He is just SO adorable. Feggis is a 'myotonic' goat which means that when he gets startled or scared, he freezes. Sometimes this can happen to humans too. 

In one section of the game, with the help of Feggis, you work through what to do when this happens / how you might prevent it from happening and also I think, most importantly, learn that you are not alone if this ever happens to you. 




Feggis can usually be found meditating on a mountain rock or practicing yoga which really helps with his anxieties. Feggis is a great listener and Melva's best friend who always listens to her worries and teaches us the importance and listening to our friends. 

Who is the game suitable for? 


The game is recommended for children aged 7-11. With each purchase you can add up to four users per household. Dee played along on their 12th birthday and was very engaged with the material. Jack (10) was watching TV in the same room but actually ended up sitting next to Dee and they played together. 

Older children will be able to work through the game by themselves with minimal input from parents / carers but you might want to talk to your children about the game/issues it brought up afterwards. Younger children / non-readers will probably need an adult to sit with them and work through parts of the game together. For me, I wanted to be in the same room and we chatted about the game/ issues raised as they played but I wasn't directly supervising. 

We aren't experiencing any particular issues with anxiety at the moment (that I know of) but that doesn't matter. The game is still fun to play and a fantastic conversation starter / way to chat about these issues which is important for every child I think, especially after a particularly stressful year.

I say we aren't experiencing any major mental health issues at the moment, but there is no doubt the pandemic, lockdowns and being away from school, friends and family has impacted on my children and Melva online has enabled us to explore these thoughts and feelings a little further rather than just saying 'we are fine' if that makes sense? It has provided an opportunity for open discussion rather than just getting on with things. 

Harry (14) is definitely too old for this now and I would not recommend for teenagers but Mortal Fools do lots of amazing work with teens and young people on other projects which you can find out more about on their website. 

Our review



My children love gaming but have not really played something like Melva before. I did have the preconception that they might find it a little babyish or condescending, roll their eyes and not engage. You know how kids can be! 

However for Dee and Jack, I can 100% say that this was not the case. Look at the concentration on Dee's face! They were really engaged with the content of the game and as we have all been in the same room as they have played, it has been a brilliant starting point for conversations around our own mental health and how we can be a better friend. 

During the course of the game we have chatted about our emotions, decision making and whether a 'quick fix' or longer term solution is better when trying to deal with problems plus how we deal with anything that is worrying us and the importance of sharing our worries / who we can talk to. 

The animation in the game is cute, the characters are relatable and quirky/funny and I love that the characters all have local accents. There is a real feeling of familiarity and safety as you play. 

The game is pretty in depth too, it's not just a quick fix and does not just glaze over the issues, it really gets you properly thinking about your child's mental health and along with the game resourses, provides lots of practical and workable solutions for helping with childhood anxiety and every day worries. 

Obviously, the game does not replace professional help and please do speak to your GP if you are concerned but as an additional or at-home / school resource, I really do feel like this game offers fantastic value and would recommend. 

Melva online has been created by Mortal Fools, a multi award-winning creative learning charity based here in Northumberland, with supported funds from Arts Council England, Northumberland County Council, Public Health Northumberland and Gateshead Council. I am really proud that something so important has been produced here in the North East. 

Melva online tackles a whole range of anxieties and issues and provides ideas for dealing with them / encourages us to think of ways we might be able to help ourselves. Issues explored include: 

  • Niggling voices in your head
  • Laughing exercises
  • Why / why not you might want to talk to grown ups about your worries
  • Anger
  • Feeling safe
  • Grussles 
  • Fight or flight mode / Freezing when under pressure
  • Being taken seriously by grown ups 
  • Exploring and understanding your own feelings 
  • How to help others who are feeling anxious or worried 
  • Coping strategies 


I have personally taken the time to complete Melva online myself as part of my research for this post, and although I am definitely not their prime target audience, I actually enjoyed it too and it was good as a parent to learn about different ways children can learn to cope with their everyday worries and how I can better understand them too. 


Tell me about schools & future plans...... 


If you recognise Melva, you may remember that we watched a production of Melva at Gosforth Civic Theatre last year. We absolutely loved the performance and I feel like this is only the start of Melva's journey. Mortal Fools have loads of plans to increase mental health awareness and wellbeing amongst our children and young people. I don't mean to be frivolous around an important issue but I really hope their plans include a talking Feggis soft toy - I'd buy it! 

Seriously though, there are plans for a Melva film to be screened later this year (hopefully October Half Term) which I would highly recommend looking out for. I will let you know when it's all confirmed. 

Melva online is also available to schools and community groups with a slightly different version which is more tailored to teachers and a classroom environment. My children regularly take part in wellbeing days at school and I think Melva online would be absolutely perfect for this. There are plans for workshops/ school theatre and a wider offering available to schools later this year too. Schools and community groups can find out more / purchase Melva online or register their interest here. 



Technical Information & where to buy 

Melva Online can be purchased and accessed online via https://melva.org.uk/. Once purchased, you can add up to four users who can save their own games and progress on their own profiles. Anytime you wish to play, just visit melva.org.uk, login then select the correct profile. 

Melva online requires internet / mobile connection and can be played on a phone, tablet, PC or Mac. I would recommend primarily accessing and playing via a tablet or PC/Mac laptop or desktop as it is a little tricky to play on a phone and the text is fairly small. To get the most from the experience, you need a tablet / computer screen size ideally. 

Melva online is available for an introductory cost of £9.99 which includes unlimited access to the online game for up to four household users, a user guide and accompanying activity book to download. 













Share:

No comments

Post a comment

I'd love you to Tweet your thoughts about this post (@nefamilyfun) or leave a comment over on my Facebook page (fb.com/NeFamilyFun) - Sam x

© North East Family Fun | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig