Stand By Me

Quick Overview

Helping your teen through tough times

I'm a dad and I'm scared.

When I say I'm a dad and I'm scared, I really mean: I'm a dad and I'm looking for answers – from the professionals, kids, mums, dads and other caregivers who have been there, holding each other's hands to hell and back.

Stand by me. Let's take the journey together.

Charting John Kirwan's personal experiences as a father, and featuring the real voices of young people today, Stand By Me investigates issues around teenage mental health, with a focus on depression and anxiety.

With clinical psychologists Dr Elliot Bell and Kirsty Louden-Bell, JK confronts the big questions facing parents and teens, highlighting key messages and offering best approaches. Stand By Me also draws on the perspectives of teenagers who have been diagnosed with mental health issues and the families who have journeyed with them. In their own words, the young people reflect on their darkest days and recovery, and consider how these experiences have shaped them as they face forward into their adult lives.

Intimate, enlightening and impossible to ignore, Stand By Me is a window into an all-too-real issue facing New Zealand families, and a powerful tool for anyone concerned about the wellbeing of young people in their care.

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Health Professional Review

Health Professional Reviewer: Liz Maluschnig, Counsellor, MNZCCA. Reviewed 3 February 2016.

Book Title: Stand By Me: Helping your teen through tough times

Author(s): Sir John Kirwan. Rugby Coach, Husband, Father and is a Knight Companion of the NZ Order of Merit for services to mental health and rugby.

Date published: 2014

Suitable for: Parents, teenagers, and healthcare workers. Intermediate reading level

Problems addressed: Mental Illness in Teenagers especially depression and anxiety

Book Summary: This is an excellent resource for families experiencing teenagers with mental health issues especially depression and or anxiety.

There are many ‘voices’ in this book giving understanding from a wide perspective.

John Kirwan relates his experience of depression as a young man and as a Father; Teenagers share their experiences through their darkest days to the place of recovery; Parents give voice to their journey with vulnerability and honesty and 2 clinical Psychologists share key insights and evidence based best approaches for dealing with depression and anxiety in very easy to understand voices.

Each chapter highlights a different stage of the journey from diagnosis to wellness and all aspects of its effect on a Teens personal and interpersonal wellbeing. The chapters are short, readable with a summary of key points at the end.

Strengths and Weaknesses:

  • This book was easy to read with good personal examples in the voices of teenagers but I thought there was quite a lot of repetition in the text, however this is not necessarily a bad thing as it helps to get the message across!
  • The presentation with short chapters and summary’s at the end of each chapter is very good and makes it very readable.
  • There is a lot of hands on advice and practical support so excellent therapeutic value.

Health Professional Recommendations:

  • I would highly recommend this book to parents of teens who are facing depression or anxiety. I totally recommend it for the teenagers themselves as it offers validation for their experience, hope and specific strategies for building resilience and maintaining wellbeing.
  • It’s an excellent support book for parents and will give hope and choices to teens.
  • The Book reads well as a whole. Each chapter clearly identifies a different aspect of the journey and can be read individually as needed.


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