Let’s Talk Mental Health
The Penultimate Morecambe and Vice panel
This was a panel consisting of Liz Brewster, Barbara Nadel and Dr Chris Merritt.
Liz Brewster wrote a paper on the healing power of books – bibliotherapy. Teaches sociology of medicine.
Barbara Nadel is a crime writer and worked in psychiatric institutions and in the community. She herself suffers from depression and has psychotic episodes, that is under control. Her books are the Inspector Ikmen series.
Chris Merritt clinical psychologist and also writes crime. His series is the Boateng and Jones books about corruption and organised crime in London.
Liz Brewster. Barbara Nadel, Dr Chris Merritt
I must admit to being really interested in what this panel had to say because it has long been said that reading is beneficial to well-being. I was also interested in hearing what the panel had to say about mental health within writers too.
There was such a fabulously thought-provoking question to start off with –
Are writers more at risk of mental health problems?
It was interesting because writers of any kind are all human after all and crime writers in-particular are writing about pretty dark characters at times. Some methods to assist in keeping good mental health as well as some very honest thoughts on their own well-being was talked about.
Dr. Chris Merritt sounded very wise and kept his advice do-able for everyone. He talked about writers spending lots of time in isolation and inside their own head as well as the heads of maybe unpleasant people (characters).
His recommendations to writers are:
* To try to be around some people like a cafe and write. It produces some good feelings.
* Going for a walk, so it is not always just you and your material.
Liz talked about how writers (understandably) put their heart and soul in but rejection happens and reckoned you’ve got to learn how to deal with that.
Barbara said events can be hard, depending on the day, how you feel. Her advice is that you have just got to go out there for the publicity.
Dr. Merritt said, when writing, there’s got to be a purpose and not to cross the line into voyeurism. He admitted has creeped himself out a little. He also said for writers, it can be upsetting when researching real crime.
Liz says you should work out how to make sense of getting through to the end of the book.
Liz thinks you’ve got to find out what your resilience is.
For Chris, it is about how you deal with, the presentation, the motivation of the book. Thinks nothing should be off limits.
It was discussed that for mentally ill characters, it is about how to present them and the types of mental health.
It was discussed that crime writers want to know why crimes are committed and the whole web of people who are affected by the psychology.
Liz reckoned that ongoing character development in crime series means that personalities can be developed further.
Why Crime Fiction is playing an important part in Mental Health
Liz talked about bibliotherapy and explained that it as a broad, diverse field. When people find books, it’s those that really speak to them that gives people time and space. It can be non-fiction, fiction, poetry. Research was done and said crime books are very important. It was discussed that crime books are intellectually stimulating and gives people something else to focus on. The other idea is there’s a sense of closure and there’s a safe distance. Sense of closure was said to of had real positive impact on mental health issues.
Chris PTSD overlap between trauma and PTSD in crime fiction. If depicted sympathetically and readers can empathise and sympathise and hopes that shows and feeds through in society.
He thinks there’s a responsibility to do your homework for a mental health disorder. He rates Val Mcdermid for writing this well.
Successful author, Simon Brett and others are trying to get more support for authors.
What they are enjoying reading just now
Liz is a fan of cosy crime and the mystery can be light and be solved. Can be very clever mysteries too. Likes locked room type of mysteries and can think about how to solve it yourself.
Chris likes any author that creates an immersive world, which can take him out of stresses and strains, such as Jo Nesbo and Michael Connelly.
Chris – said there is an arc in his books, but can be read as standalone.
March 2020 will see the start of a new series – Lockhart and Green.
I hope people who are needing some support will seek it out. Below (and above at the beginning of this post) are links and contact details to Mind. If you are feeling you need support, people are there to do this in a confidential manner and there will be nothing to be ashamed of. Humans are created with so many complexities and that is okay. The Morecambe and Vice team put in all their programmes for this weekend, the website to Mind and contact details too, for those of you who attended. I have done the same here. If you click on the link, no one will ever know, that includes me.
These are a selection of books that were suggested in the Morecambe and Vice programme to “Read for Wellness”. Please note there will be many others and there are many other books in other genres too that get recommended in lists for Reading for Wellness. Visit your local library and your librarian or library assistant will be able to recommend “Reading for Wellness” books too.
Click below for the websites of both Dr. Chris Merritt and Barbara Nadel. Both have their books, but Dr. Chris Merritt also has some very interesting research and info on “tech psychology” too.
It was a pleasure to meet Dr. Chris Merritt, at the water-cooler as it happened. It was an interesting and pleasant chat. Thank you!