Columbia alumnus follows Mr. Rogers’ footsteps, creates children’s show about mental health

By Amina Sergazina, Staff Reporter

Tim Bearden, creator and host of “Let Me Be Your Helper,” a kids show about mental health, is a 2009 journalism alum. Courtesy/Tim Bearden

After he suffered a concussion from falling in the shower and subsequently watched the documentary about Mr. Rogers, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” Tim Bearden decided to create a mental wellness show for kids called “Let Me Be Your Helper.”

“There’s a phrase out there that [says], ‘Who does it worse does it first,'” said Bearden, a 2009 Columbia journalism alum. “I disagree with that in the case of Mr. Rogers, but I agree within the sentiment that we can build on what Mr. Rogers has already established for us and bring that awareness to the next generation.” 

While studying psychology for his master’s program at Ashford University, Bearden learned about bullying and children as young as 9 years old committing suicide due to a lack of self-understanding and regulation, which directly connects to mental health. He said this knowledge inspired the show’s mental health focus.

Bearden is divorced and has a 7-year-old son. After the divorce, his son started acting out, and Bearden took him to play therapy, giving Bearden firsthand experience with children’s therapy. Play therapy uses play as a tool to teach children how to better communicate, express feelings and develop problem-solving skills.

“I realized that there’s more cases than just [my son] … even in a nuclear family [with] no divorce, kids will behave the same way. The intensity depends on their situation,” Bearden said. “[Parents] just have less patience because they’re our kids.”

“Let Me Be Your Helper” focuses on topics like diet and physical health that can affect one’s mental health. Bearden said the show’s target audience is kids ages 7 to 12.

The episodes will be between 15 and 20 minutes long, and the show will air on Bearden’s website, Shadow Mind Mental Wellness.

Some segments of the show include reading children’s books and “Cary’s Kitchen,” where kids will learn how to create healthy meals.

Cary Skelton, for whom the segment is named, is a registered dietitian and owner of Sunrise Nutrition, a nutrition consulting company.

Skelton and Bearden met through a running group at their previous job, and they share an interest in mental health and its connection with one’s diet.

Cary Skelton is a nutritionist and host of “Cary’s Kitchen,” a segment of “Let Me Be Your Helper” that focuses on healthy recipes. Courtesy/Tim Bearden

Skelton said fruits and vegetables help alter the gut microbiome in a positive way, leading to children having better responses to stressful situations and the ability to manage their energy and general healthiness.

“Getting something out there that’s fun and engaging, something that tastes good and that is healthy and easy to make, is a skill that is missing in today’s education system,” Skelton said. “This is an opportunity to get a message out there to a larger population on the importance of good nutrition and mental health at a young age.”

Bearden owns an Enneagram coaching company named Shadow Mind Mental Wellness. Enneagram is based on the concept that everyone belongs to one of nine personality types that describe how they see the world and manage their emotions. Each person’s personality type can be determined by an Enneagram test.

Bearden uses Enneagram coaching but simplifies it for children. Like in Mr. Rogers’ show, Bearden will introduce a situation in which a personality type from the Enneagram system is displayed. Afterward, Bearden will explain to viewers why they might feel or act a certain way based on the Enneagram system.

While the Enneagram personality test is popular among the general population, there has been limited research on the Enneagram system, and it is not widely accepted by evidence-based psychologists.

Megan Exby, Bearden’s friend and one of the people he coaches with the Enneagram system, said she is planning to show her son “Let Me Be Your Helper” because it reminds her of how she used to watch Mr. Rogers when she was his age and learned a lot from it.

“Bearden started talking to me about [the show] a couple months ago … that he was pulling a lot from Mr. Rogers,” Exby said. “I really enjoyed the concept he has going forward; it sounds interesting.”

Bearden plans for the show to air by the end of summer 2021, so it will be available to children by the beginning of the next school year.

“We want to create this community of wellness for kids because … we want the next generation to be better than us,” Bearden said. “My goal, while I’ll never be Mr. Rogers, is to take what he already started creating in identifying self-love, and we want to take that to the next level and [help] kids find that love in their identity.”