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The Circus of Life Book by Rachel Munns

Written by Rachel Munns as a result of her own family's stress problems, The Circus of Life has been helping both teenagers and adults to identify and combat the common causes of everyday mental health problems.


Stress is the number one cause of teenage illness in the UK, suicide rates in this age group are at an all-time high, and the Mental Health Service is simply overwhelmed. With these books everyone can get practical help and guidance before stress begins to cause major health and social problems. Rachel explains...


“Inspired by my own family experiences as a mother, daughter and wife, five years ago I set out to create the materials and techniques that could genuinely help teenagers to combat the everyday stress caused by relationships, social media, bullying and pressures at school. My previous experience as a TV presenter, reporter and trainer gave me the research and writing skills to produce a book that I believe can genuinely make a difference to this vulnerable group of society.”



First published in March 2019, ‘The Circus of Life’ is largely based on the highly-successful course that Rachel developed and has successfully presented at schools and businesses throughout the country. It is available it two editions - one for teens and one for adults. There are both printed and digital editions for both.


In the opening chapter, the book introduces Rachel as ‘The Ringmaster’ and gives her reasons behind writing the book. She then describes the many similarities between performing well at the circus and performing well in life, for example, juggling priorities and balancing different demands. The book then carefully explains the causes and symptoms of stress and anxiety, in a language that teenagers will understand and presented in a way that they will not feel intimidated, patronised or frightened by.


Subsequent chapters then invite the reader to complete a ‘Big Top’ model, that helps them to identify their own strengths and weaknesses, and guide them into self-administered positive changes that will give them increased resilience to stress-related issues, and greater success in relationships and personal performance. Finally, there is an appendix that gives further explanation on specific issues such as eating disorders and depression, with a comprehensive list of tailored support services and charities that are available online and/or by phone.



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"Rachel has managed to take things as big as stress and mental health issues for teenagers and written it in such a way that it captures a teenager’s heart (and I can say this because I watched my 13-year-old swallow up the whole book in a couple of hours). I have seen my daughter read books at super-speed before, but they have always been books she is interested in (Harry Potter) and for her to finish this book in record time and then come to me and say “Mum, I want to print the big top model and start working on it. Can we please do it together.” is what made me finish this book in 3 days (record time for me as my super-speed is 2 weeks).


This book gives so many little ways kids can keep themselves in the straight and narrow. She has taken a topic with such a stigma (mental health) and made it so normal and something that happens to everyone (yes, it does. It is not a taboo) and made it so open and easier to deal with."


Prashansha Sharma

"The Circus of Life is very engaging and well organised, I like the chapter summaries at the end and the tasks as you go through (purposely using CBT?)  I think parents and teens will love this and what a great concept of the circus – I particularly like the rolla bolla explanation.  Your language is really accessible and the beauty is that you haven't patronised at any point which can be a bit of a teen comment.  


For me as a clinician I can see that this would be a great read to recommend in the wait between assessment and start of intervention as understandably that can feel so hard and uncontained and, as a parent myself, a time when you can feel so helpless. I love the appendices explaining the different mental health diagnoses and the message that everyone experiences these feelings. I spend a lot of clinic time talking about how we can’t ‘get rid’ of anxiety, that at times it serves a purpose, we need to make it work for rather than against us."


Victoria Bonnett, Clinical Psychologist (CAMHS)

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