STATE OF PLAY: Learning to Express Ourselves

Our scented childhood memories are often a source of positive nostalgia and comfort. The sense of smell is however the most underestimated of all and the olfactive education of our children is rarely explored. There exists an emotional and olfactive literacy to create–from which adults could learn to help identify and express their own emotions. At Firmenich, we are convinced that fragrance is culture, and culture is about shared meaning but we don’t have a shared meaning around emotions or fragrances. So let’s open the topic about the language of emotions taking an interesting parallel with the sense of play as a mediator.

How do we help young people to express emotions, fears and experiences? How can we learn on our own search for wellness by taking a children perspective? We met Phil J Tottman, co-founder of Book of Beasties: The Mental Wellness Card Game to talk about mental health. This multi-award winning card game and lesson plan aspires to raise emotional literacy, teach resilience, empathy and encourage the open conversation about mental ill-health and wellbeing. By offering an approachable and enjoyable platform to promote discussion of serious mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, this initiative makes us think about the way we learn, communicate and play with emotions.

Meet Oscar and his cat Foggy, The Merchant, Mimic and the incredible collection of Beasties, each portraying characteristics associated with depression and anxiety. Help them understanding how they are feeling, finding a way to feel happier.

Play therapy is undoubtedly a fresh approach on mental health education, that also questions the power of senses – and more precisely the positive impact of fragrance in future narratives around wellbeing. The sense of smell is certainly underestimated but has a differentiated role to play in the language of emotions.

At Firmenich, we believe mental wellness is essential, allowing us to make the most of our potential in life and play a full part in our family, workplace, and community. We are designing fragrances to create positive emotions, to enhance well-being naturally and it is part of our RE|GENERATION manifesto to capture new imaginations.

Let’s increase our awareness on mental health issues and their impact, and listen to the fantastic journey of Phil’s Beasties. In the video below, Phil sits down with a few Firmenich employees to have a conversation about the state of play, and possibilities for the future.

For more information on Book of Beasties: The Mental Wellness Card Game, go to