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Four days in your life
One of the many difficult issues for people with mental health problems is being able to talk about it. Talking about the experience can help make connections with other people who have had similar experiences, and it may help the person to express themselves and stop concealing the problem. There’s a wider public benefit in that the more people who talk about mental health experiences may help reduce stigma about mental health problems. So what if you do find it difficult to talk about your experiences, because of the fear of exposing your thoughts and feelings to others? Well maybe writing about it is the answer. I watched a news item on BBC Breakfast a couple of weeks ago about a new project part-funded by Public Health England encouraging people to do just that in the form of an online blog. The project is called ‘A Day in the Life’ and the idea is that people write about their experiences on four days in the year.
Four days in one year
The project is run by a social enterprise organisation called Social Spider. The idea is that people with mental health problems are invited to sign up to the Day in the Life project. They then get reminders before the four chosen days in the calendar and write about their experiences, thoughts and feelings on that day. All the contributions are published on the internet, and are open for others to see. Now there might be concerns about that, particularly in the light of some of the horrible stories we have heard about online abuse, but the project builds in some safeguards. The blog site is anonymous, and writers are discouraged from including any identifiable information.
The benefits of this are clear. This is a way in which people can express themselves about their mental health problems where they might feel uncomfortable talking about them. The idea of people with mental health problems expressing themselves through writing is not new, however, the idea of a ‘mass’ writing project that lots of people can share may be is. Looking at comments on social media, there are going to be large numbers of people are signing up for this project, so this community of bloggers will bring the benefits of huge breadth of experiences. Many people with mental health problems and their families comment that one of the best things about hearing other people’s experiences is the feeling that you are not alone. The project states that its aim is to help people and is not primarily a research project, but I think they do hope that lots of examples about what helps and what doesn’t help may influence mental health provision in the future.
If you want to find more about the project have a look at the website http://dayinthelifemh.org.uk/