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Nationwide Advocacy Service

Author Joanna Cannon: why I’m going back to the psychiatric wards

Tuesday 25th April

Helene Mulholland

Cannon, author of The Trouble with Goats and Sheep, who quit psychiatry more than two years ago to concentrate on writing, is returning to the NHS as a volunteer with Arts for Health. Its programme, run by South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS foundation trust, brings creative arts to patients. Tea-making aside, she is keen to help patients understand their own life story through “reading for wellbeing” groups and creative writing.

Cannon once retreated to read for two weeks solid after her mental health deteriorated while working as a junior doctor, and she started writing “for therapy” on a blog. “I wrote that blog to understand myself more,” she explains. “If you read some of the early entries they’re all full of doom and gloom because I was trying to process the things I was seeing as a junior doctor. Not by talking directly about them, obviously, because that would be unethical, but by talking about my reaction to things. I think reading and writing is the best way of understanding your narrative from a safe position… reading is also an escape more than anything else. When I had that two weeks off and read books I felt as though I’d left my own life for a bit and just enjoyed being somewhere else, and I think that’s important for patients. Also creative writing will give them an outlet to talk about how they feel without actually having to talk about how they feel.

To continue reading…https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/apr/25/joanna-cannon-author-trouble-with-goats-and-sheep-wards-psychiatry-nhs