2017 FIT For Charity Run beneficiary, NPO Pulusualuha, supports families with parents struggling with mental disability and children who live in challenging circumstances by publishing picture books and distributing contents online.
A pleasant breeze blew through the comfortable office of Pulusualuha, where FIT For Charity members were greeted by Ms. Chiaki Hosoo, a psychiatric nurse and illustrator, and Ms. Yoko Kitano, a doctor and executive representative of Pulusualuha. We asked about the activities and future development of Pulusualuha in connection to their unique experience working at a psychiatric clinic and dealing with mental health care.
Ms. Chiaki Hosoo, Pulusualuha illustrator (right) with FIT Communications Vice-chair Ms. Akiko Sagawa
FIT: Please tell us about Pulusualuha’s main activities.
Kitano: We create and distribute contents regarding mental health care. Our activities cover a wide range of mental health issues, but our focus is mainly on providing support to children whose parents struggle with mental disorder.
We provide support in an area that has not received much attention in Japan so far. For example, we support children whose mothers’ are going through depression or whose fathers’ suffer from alcoholism.
Specifically, we focus on two main areas. The first is the production of picture book series, such as “Teaching children about their family’s mental health issues” and “How to read and understand children’s feelings.” The second is distributing information on our website, “Kids' Information Network.” Recently, collaboration opportunities with various government agencies and other support groups have increased as well.
Hosoo: For example, in collaboration with Saitama Prefecture Mental Health and Welfare Centre, we created an illustration for serving trays at a local university cafeteria. The illustration acts as a tool to inform people of mental health and how to maintain good mental health. Through my illustrations, I aim to express in a heart-warming way what can be a rather heavy topic.
FIT: Please tell us about how Pulusualuha was started.
Kitano: We were colleagues at a Mental Health and Welfare Centre. At the time, a project was launched for children with family members suffering from mental illness or substance abuse / addiction and we planned and prepared various tools for the project.
Government agencies often make various information leaflets, but we discussed that we wanted to inform children about mental illness in a more children-friendly way by using handmade tools and decided to make a picture story show.
The picture story show was well received by both children and adults and we were delighted that our message was delivered. That was when we realised that there is need to educate children about mental illness but it was not available until then.
After further research, we found out that there was hardly any activity or information available about providing care and support to children who have family members suffering from mental illness. Our simple motivation for starting Pulusualuha was, “If it doesn’t exist, we will provide it” and with that theme in mind we started making picture story books.
FIT: How do you obtain information about children who need care?
Kitano: When we first started Pulusualuha, we were advised to narrow our theme, so we decided to focus our effort on producing picture books. However, there are certain messages that we cannot convey solely through picture books; also, (given the variety of topics to cover) we felt that publishing only one or two books a year wasn’t enough. So we decided to distribute information using the internet and created “Kids' Information Station.” Using the internet, we are able to distribute real time information on a wide range of topics for free.
The section of the website most frequently visited is the downloadable materials section. School nurses download the materials from our website for posting them around the school and using as tools.
It is difficult for children who need care to seek information about mental health on their own. Therefore, we aim to distribute the information to the adults who are near the children.
As a result of thinking about how to reach those involved in education, welfare and others working with suffering children and their families, we came up with the following tools.
FIT: What is the energy that motivates and drives you?
Hosoo: I think it is enjoyment. I want to do fun things and I want to be excited. If I am not enjoying the process, I can’t produce anything good. When I am having fun, many ideas and images naturally come to my mind.
If I am going to produce anything, I want it to be useful. I research very thoroughly as well. I want to produce the best work that I can.
Kitano: I hope the picture books become a trigger for change and a source of communication. The word “Pulusualuha” is coined from “plus alpha,” and as such, I will be very happy if we are able to contribute to a change in viewpoint, transforming zero to one.
Another motivation for us is that there are people who we need to deliver the contents we produce. The truth is, it is rather challenging as the issue we address is very delicate. The situation of the people we deliver the contents to is unique and different. Age, family situation, personality, the challenges faced and the individual’s thoughts, everything is different. Therefore, it is very difficult to decide on the theme to base the contents on, how to deliver the contents, and to whom.
“I was able to identify with the contents very much” is a feedback we frequently receive. However, we also receive feedback such as “My experienced was different from what was portrayed” or “I didn’t feel this way.” Although our contents are produced with good intentions, sometimes they can hurt some people. While we know that they cannot be a perfect outcome, we still aspire to find the perfect version, constantly thinking for the people who we need to reach.
FIT: Please tell us about your future challenges.
Kitano: I think our challenge is spreading knowledge about our theme. It has been seven years since we started our activities and we have increased recognition within a narrow professional circle. However, how much recognition do we have with the people who really need the information?
We also need to distribute information to the general public. We feel the challenge of distributing information to each person who really needs the information and care.
Another challenge for us is that there is no specific title or name for the field we work in. I think a naming is necessary in order for our work to be widely recognised.
For example, “depression” is generally well known and many people can easily imagine the kind of symptoms. By attaching a name, it becomes a keyword, easily picked up, and people’s awareness of the problem spreads. If anyone has any good ideas, we would love to hear.
In addition, as Pulusualuha’s executive representative, another big challenge for me is managing our finances to ensure the continuation of our organisation.
FIT: Please share us your thoughts about FIT For Charity’s initiative.
Kitano: Through FIT For Charity, we were able to expand the area of our operation and leverage the opportunity to increase awareness.
In recent years, we have had increased opportunities to collaborate with government agencies and other groups, so we hope to seek out similar collaboration opportunities with the companies involved in FIT For Charity.
Hosoo: First of all, thank you very much. Please come to our picture exhibition! We are planning an exhibition of story books drawn by Hosoo-san.
I have felt the tremendous support of many people within the financial industry and want to return our gratitude to those who have supported us in the form of charity contribution. This year I will also challenge myself and take part in the 10km run!
NPO Pulusualuha https://pulusualuha.or.jp/about/aboutenglish/
Kids' Information Network https://kidsinfost.net/