Advice Column, Child, Education, Mainstream Education, Parenting, Tween & Teen

14-year-old mental health advocate Jess Robus shines a light on youth mental health in her inspiring debut book

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A collection of poetry

By Jess Robus

With a maturity that belies her 14-years, vibrant Jess Robus is already a singer, songwriter, debater and musical theatre aficionado.

On 3 June 2021, she added ‘published author’ and ‘published poet’ to those accolades, with the release of her debut book A Few Slivers of Light, now available for purchase online on Amazon, on her own website or via PayStack.

A Few Slivers of Light is a beautifully-written, vulnerable and emotive collection of poems of a teenager’s journey with anxiety and depression. Author Jess Robus hopes she will inspire other teens and young adults to speak up about their struggles and to reach parents who might have children experiencing these challenges.

With May having just been Mental Health Awareness Month and June being Youth Month, there is no better time for Jess to release her poetry collection for the world to see. Starting to write poetry at the tender of age 8, Jess chose this medium as a means for her to process the world around her.

Jess explains;

“I’ve always loved writing, and poetry in particular I’ve found to be a very engaging medium both from the perspective of the reader and the writer. It’s an art form that can so eloquently capture emotions and thoughts and enables me to deal with them and process them constructively. Publishing this book is a way for me to share my struggles and recovery and hopefully show others that they are not alone.”

Award-winning author & poet, Raashida Khan has written the Foreward to the book. 

An excerpt of that Foreward captures the essence of the book;

A few Slivers of Light is more than a collection of beautiful and evocative poetry. It is a revelation. An insight into the psyche of a young woman walking her journey of life while dealing with challenges, both internal and external.

Jess Robus displays insight and talent that belie her young age. Her writing journey mirrors her personal journey so that as readers, we are drawn in and are captured by the turn of phrase, use of words, and interesting take on writing style.

The imagery used in her descriptions are sometimes startling, but always concise and targeted. Jess fearlessly invites us to experience her thoughts, feelings and emotions in the most intimate way. That takes courage and is inspiring to see in one so young. 

As readers, we are more than observers being given a glimpse of the depths of despair and heights of triumph. The poems speak to the heart, mind and soul of the reader, taking us into deep recesses of our own consciousness.”

Mental health and awareness around it is very important to Jess. She went through a two-year depressed anxiety spiral and has witnessed the struggles that her friends and fellow teenagers have experienced with their own mental health. 

Her poetry book as well as some of her music, chronicles her own journey of accepting and constructively dealing with the challenges she has faced. With A Few Slivers of Light, she gets to share her story and reassure others that whatever they may be going through, they are not alone. 

Jess is often asked what motivates her to put her thoughts into poetry; an unconventional medium for teenagers. She responds; “In terms of self-expression, poetry is honest, raw and real. It can truly capture the emotions of a moment and in doing so helps me to recognise them, express them and deal with them.” 

Jess had her guests captivated at her book launch held in Johannesburg on 3 June. Family, friends and members of the media were mesmerised as she shared her poetry with the group. This captivating teenager showed maturity beyond her years as she answered question after question by convenor Raashida Khan and then the audience.

Says Jess; “It was really such a wonderful experience to get to share the book and my thoughts with people and to see how many are passionate about normalising discussions about mental health. If I can reach just one person and let them know that their feelings are real and valid and that they are not alone, then this book will have accomplished its purpose.”

Jess concludes; “I’m so excited for my poetry to be out in the world and for people to have the opportunity to read it. I’m hopeful they’ll find some meaning from it.”

A Few Slivers of Light is self-published, and now available for purchase online on Amazon, via Jess Robus’s website or via PayStack

Follow Jess Robus on Social Media





Wattpad         JCDuValier 

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Publicity Photographs courtesy of Vivid Images Photography

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