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Making a Difference Every Day

The Challenge

Arts and Network Logo

A staff member at St Anne’s edits the Leeds Book Club blog as a hobby. She thought that this worthy project might appeal to others within the St Anne’s community and would like to invite staff members and clients to participate in this ongoing conversation to highlight and increase awareness about mental health issues

Sharing Stories Logo

At Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, our purpose is to improve the health and lives of the people who use our services every day.

We are committed to campaigning to raise awareness of mental health and learning disabilities and to reduce related stigma and discrimination.

This year we are harnessing the power of storytelling to bring people together around this common purpose. Stories are about making connections, engendering empathy and understanding, decreasing prejudice and stigma and about creating shared experiences, as well as tapping in to our imagination.

The Why:

Many of us use fiction to inform our day-to-day lives, filling out the gaps in our experiences. Where information is clearly out-dated - racist passages for example; it’s interesting to reflect on how much has changed from societal perceptions to our use of language and descriptions.

However, where changes are taking place in the contemporary world, the facts can all become a little fuzzy. It’s harder sometimes to see the truth behind the passages that we’re reading. The only way to really change a situation is to increase dialogue and awareness of the realities of any situation.

Fiction plays a major role in our lives, however we absorb it, so it’s important to be able to contextualise what we’re reading or watching.

The Facts

The truth of the matter is that when I was a kid, no one really talked about mental health problems, but it was recognised that you'd likely know someone with a few issues.

Today, they estimate that 1 in 4 people in the UK will experience some form of mental health issue in the course of a year. 1 in 10 children will suffer from a mental health issue atany one time.

Oh, and in a glorious acknowledgement of our tendency to vilify rather than treat appropriately, only 1 in 10 of those incarcerated in prisons will have NO mental disorder.

The Project

The Arts and Minds Network in Leeds is determined to use 2013 to raise awareness and promote positive mental health via the arts. Tweet them @ArtsMindsLeeds

Every two months, we'll read one of books listed below and pay special attention to descriptions, characters and plot that include those facing mental health issues. Hopefully, we will then take part in a vibrant discussion online, on social media and IRL at book clubs.

We'd be delighted to invite you to join us - if you'd like to offer a review of one (or more) of the books on the list, please drop me a line at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or via twitter @leedsbookclub or contact the ever-cheerful Tom via @ArtsMindsLeeds

Where indicated, I’ll happily post blog posts anonymously – I appreciate that not everyone will want to discuss their personal reflections on a sensitive topic on a public forum like this. Obviously, on the other hand, I'll also include links to twitter names, your blogs and so on if so desired.

Here at Leeds Book Club, we think that’s INSPIRED!

The List

January & February:The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

March & April:Marbles – Ellen Forney

May & June:The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion

July & August:Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healy

September & October:The Examined Life – Stephen Grosz

November & December:Stranger than Kindness – Mark A Radcliffe

Read any books that feature mental health? Then let us know – the good, the bad and the ugly! You might well see one of your suggestions in next year’s list.

Tweet Tom at @ArtsMindsLeeds

Email Leeds Book Club at leedsbookclub@gmail.com or via twitter @leedsbookclub