We are a Japanese NPO called pulusualuha. You can call us Pulusu (poo-loo-soo). We make picture books and other psychoeducational tools to help children feel at ease and hopeful.
When we started in 2012, we focused on children who have a parent with a mental disorder. In Japan, more than half of children in this situation never receive any explanation about their parent’s disorder. These children can feel that they are the cause of the problem or that they cannot tell anyone about it. We want these children to know that they are not alone and that their parent’s struggles are not their fault.
We have since expanded our range to include books about children’s own difficulties, such as staying home from school because of complex feelings or hyper-reactivity to sensory input. Through our Kids’ Information Station website and our downloadable tools, we try to address every aspect of living with and around mental disorders.
All of our tools have a distinct visual style thanks to the illustrations of co-founder Chiaki Hoso’o. As a psychiatric nurse and artist, Chiaki brings a unique sensibility to her work. Her characters and colors create a Pulusu world that becomes familiar and comforting.
1. Picture books
Pulusu has been working with the publisher Yumani Shobou since 2012 to create hardcover picture books with vibrant reproductions of Chiaki’s painted illustrations. Click on the linked titles to see videos of read-alouds in Japanese.
Could It Be My Fault? My Mother Has Depression (2012)
What Happened to Mom? My Mother Has Schizophrenia, Part 1 (2013) and Part 2 (2013)
Has He Forgotten Me? My Father Has Alcoholism (2014)
Don’t Call it School Refusal (2014)
I Wish My Parents Wouldn’t Fight, but My Adventure is Beginning (2015)
Investigating My Hyper-Reactivity (2015)
In keeping with our mission to reach as many children as possible, we launched a website called Kids’ Information Station in 2015. It has grown into a rich library of factual information, tips for everyday living, personal stories of people affected by mental disorders, and posts of Chiaki’s artwork and poetic observations. As of April 2018, the site was serving more than 40,000 unique visitors per month. The total number of unique users since the site opened is nearing 1 million.
3. Downloadable tools
The Kids’ Information Station website has a section where we post free downloadable tools for self-care, communication, and learning about mental disorders. All of the tools have been created by Pulusu and feature Chiaki’s illustrations. Based on requests, we have started translating some of these tools into other languages.
Born in Hyogo prefecture, Chiaki worked in a psychiatric clinic in Kansai for many years before moving to Saitama in 2008. While working at the Saitama Mental Health Center, Chiaki created original illustrations for a kami shibai (storytelling performance). Positive response led to the decision to create picture books and the formation of Pulusu. She pays particular attention to the eyes of her characters and color in her artwork. Chiaki herself lives with hyper-reactivity to sensory input.
Born in Nagasaki prefecture, Yoko is a psychiatrist. She met Chiaki when they were both working at the Saitama Mental Health Center. She noticed how Chiaki’s illustrations touched people of all ages and sees artwork as a vital part of communicating the feelings and experiences of living with and around mental disorders. For each picture book, she has written an extensive medical explanation that follows the story. Yoko is the Representative Director of Pulusu, and she is dedicated to reaching as many children affected by mental disorders as possible.
SPECIALIST PRO BONO SUPPORT
As appreciation for the work being done by Pulusu grows, we have been fortunate to receive pro bono support from professionals who have expertise in relevant fields such as psychiatric social work or information technology. We are especially grateful to individuals who contribute regularly as part of our “project team.”
ABOUT THE NAME: pulusualuha
The name pulusualuha is a playful spin on the Japanese expression “plus alpha,” which means “something extra.” The “extra” in this case is the attention paid to the emotional experience of the people who engage with our products. Chiaki paints her illustrations for the picture books with sensitive attention to color and we reproduce these images as faithfully as we can on paper that feels good to touch. The doodle-style drawings on our communication cards and posters are meant to be comforting. We always want to be providing facts and “something extra” that makes people feel supported.
While pulusualuha looks visually fun, especially when written in Japanese hiragana, the word is difficult to remember and pronounce in English. For this reason, we use the slightly different name “Pulusu” for English communication. In addition to staying connected with the word “plus,” Pulusu (poo-loo-soo) has the advantage of sounding a bit like “loose.” This fits with our goal of helping children feel a sense of release when they use our tools. We hope that we can help everyone move from feeling physically and emotionally “tight” to feeling “loose.”
pulusualuha established as a voluntary association (nin’i dantai)
Published first picture book (Could It Be My Fault? My Mother Has Depression)
Award from The Japanese Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Selected to receive support from Social Venture Partners (SVP) Tokyo
Created content for a Cabinet Office website about alcohol-related issues
pulusualuha established as a non-profit organization (tokutei hi-eiri katsudo hojin)
Kids’ Information Station website goes live
I Can’t Talk About It is created and distributed to all schools in Saitama Prefecture
Lilly Award received from the Community Mental Health & Welfare Bonding Organization
310 picture books donated to school nurse’s offices
Poster contest award from Orange Ribbon, organization for preventing child abuse
Gallery showing of Chiaki’s original artwork, part 1
Gallery showing of Chiaki’s original artwork, part 2
Selected to be supported by FIT Charity Run 2017
Gallery showing of Chiaki’s original artwork, part 3
Gallery showing of Chiaki’s art work, October 2017
Representative Director Yoko Kitano