WHY “MENTAL HEALTH AND LITERATURE”?
Mental health touches each one of us, either directly or indirectly.
We’re beginning to see the serious effects of COVID 19 on mental health and psychological wellbeing in the general population. Social isolation and confinement have increased anxiety in some people and distress in others. We already knew that reading fiction promotes empathy (towards oneself and others) and a sense of overall well-being, and that keeping a journal or writing your own story can help you make sense of it and find meaning in what you are experiencing. With the COVID19 crisis, Blue Metropolis reactivates one of its areas of interest—that of mental health and well-being. Making use of art therapy and the power of writing, Blue Metropolis proposes to update its platforms on reading and writing in relation to mental health. The Foundation also hopes to present a series of meetings on Facebook Live with authors and experts whose novels and research deal with anxiety, depression, homophobia and bullying.
Childhood is not always an idyllic time of life. Clouds may gather overhead. A best friend who moves away, a grandparent who dies, parents who separate, a much-loved dog that must be put to sleep, school friends who reject a classmate… Children’s books are a good way to deal with these situations, gently and with sensitivity. Intended for specific age groups, picture books and storybooks for young readers can help parents broach these topics and encourage conversation.
“Youth is happy because it has the capacity to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old,” said Kafka. He was quite right. Laughter, friendship and curiosity are the essential elements of a satisfying and fulfilling old age. If you’re a senior, you’ll find a range of inspiring activities here. This section includes a book club for seniors, writing exercises to prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, an online library, stand-up comedy featuring seniors, and other activities.
Literature and mental health have coexisted for centuries. We all want to have good mental as well as physical health. But at times the uncertainties of life intervene. When depression strikes, there may seem to be no cure. But that isn’t true. Aside from professional help and medication, reading and writing can bring comfort, help you to understand yourself better and regain psychological well-being.
To feel good… To feel better… That’s what we all seek, at any age, but perhaps even more so at 12, 15 or 17 years of age. Some periods of life are more difficult to traverse, certain situations are more painful to deal with. Literature, writing and all other forms of self-expression, whether in the arts or in sports—from cheerleading to photography to hip- hop—can be a lifeline to grab onto when you are in need.
LITERATURE AND WELLBEING: WHAT THE STUDIES SAY
A number of studies have demonstrated that literature, either through reading or writing, greatly helps to improve mental health (Wilson et al., 2013), while contributing to a feeling of well-being (Kidd and Castano, 2013) in the short and long term. Better yet, literature helps prevent and combat a wide variety of pathologies, including mood and nervous system disorders (Bower et al., 2013). In addition, writing is a liberating experience (Samuel, 2018) that allows those who write to share their joys and sorrows, brings out the best in them, allows them to discover new interests and even improves their health (Ciotti, 2014). In fact, studies even show that writing is just as beneficial as therapeutic treatment, since the benefits it o ers are a feeling of well-being, improvement in the expression and communication of one’s thoughts and better self-knowledge (King, 2001).
BLUE MET’S RESILIENCE CHANNEL
For more than ten years, Blue Metropolis Foundation has produced a number of videos featuring authors from the world over, while they were taking part in the Festival or in one of the Foundation’s events, and who had a message to impart on various significant social issues. In addition, several educational and social programs offered by the Foundation have kept a record of their accomplishments in the form of video clips, personal accounts, songs and artwork created by the young participants.
In reviewing this archival treasure, we asked the members of the Blue Metropolis team to suggest a selection of videos that give us hope for a better world and that speak of courage and resilience.
At Blue Metropolis, our world is one of words. Here are some images that have something to say.