Literature and Mental Health

I’ve always worked here and there: Saturday pharmacy assistant, casual hours waitressing and six months with a Debenhams concession in the back end of nowhere during my gap year. But not a ‘proper’ job, you know, one that alerts Student Finance England that you now need to pay back a hefty wedge of your monthly earnings that are deposited directly into your bank account, post-tax, pre-tips.

So, on top of a fractured clavicle and trying to finish my Masters dissertation writing up the research I carried out in Bangladesh earlier this year, starting work hasn’t been entirely straightforward. Aside from scrambling for press skills in a new context and familiarising myself with the positioning of the organisation I work for, the loss of a daily reading list (be that for a degree course or a personal long-list) has been quite a shock.

Of course, work hasn’t forbidden personal reading, but seems instead to have subsumed all energy and appetite for it. Slowly, I’ve been easing myself back in with some favourite fiction pieces, but it still feels a bit too soon to get my teeth back into the global health journals and the progressive currency of development-focused material that used to shape the thinking behind this blog.

Looking sideways has also helped. A friend who generously reads these pages recommended The University of Warwick’s ‘Literature and Mental Health’ e-learning programme which started earlier this week. I’ve signed up to virtual courses before, but never fully committed, instead cherry-picking choice reads and passively spying on user forums (not sure how this reflects on me, if at all!). This time, I’m going to do it properly. Engage with the material in its diversity and without a motive to ‘get’ anything from it, other than just to start enjoying hearing the voices of people working and writing in this area again.

I’m going to devote the next few posts to how I’ve found the course: looking at content that has appealed or warrants sharing with a wider audience, and to field your views also. If you want to get involved, sign-up to the free course here. I’d love to hear how you find it.