• Writing for mental health podcast SMHAFF Conference 2015


    Exciting podcast  from March 2015, Glasgow CCA, it’s well worth a listen (1 hour).

    With various speakers, including John McCormack of the Scottish Recovery Network, Gail Porter and Duglas T. Stewart of the BMX Bandits.

    On 26 March 2015 the Mental Health Foundation staged The Dust of Everyday Life, a conference at the CCA in Glasgow designed to ask challenging questions about the relationship between mental health and the arts. The findings will help to shape future editions of the Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, as we prepare for our tenth programme in 2016.

    The Dust of Everyday Life consisted of a series of panel discussions touching on film, TV, theatre, photography, and writing, as well as stigma, social justice and raising awareness.

    This is a recording of our session on writing, which asked the question: from memoirs to creative fiction, what role can writing play in overcoming mental health issues?

    The panel consisted of Gail Porter (writer, TV presenter and health campaigner), Duglas T Stewart(singer-songwriter, BMX Bandits), Michael Rowe (associate professor, department of psychiatry, Yale School of Medicine)and John McCormack (Scottish Recovery Network)

    Looking at firstly the act of writing and what does it change?

    Gail reads from her book about being sectioned, in a funny and irreverent way.But she also makes you aware of how she felt at that critical time:

    “Once upon a time my head hurt a lot. So  … I was sectioned…

    …There was fear, there was fear, shame,…

    oh and did I mention, fear?”

    Then Duglas : “Sometimes the scream comes out as  a song…”

    John shared that when you write when you’re very anxious, …”it creates a narrative and you can capture it rather than leave it whirring round and round…”.  I relate to the whirring mind. I agree with John, that writing slows me down a bit, creates a space to reflect.The panel was chaired by Mark Brown (editor of 1 in 4 magazine) and he prompts the panel with interesting questions, and adds his own thoughts:

    “Writing is magical, turning something inside you into gold…”

    Later, Mark asks them the second question: “What is the value of writing of tackling writing ABOUT mental health..people with experience of bad stuff, ..getting it out into the public?”   John refers us to the Write To Recovery website,  and reminds us how beneficial writing about the bad stuff IS.As Ted Bowman would say, if it’s unmentionable, it’s unmanageable. I agree with this. Deffo.

    The focus on  positive words about the value of  not being alone were two talking points that I liked hearing from this podcast. I remember that feeling, on the phone to the Samaritans, you suddenly realise there’s loads a people like me.And it helps a lot.