Next Thursday – 5th February – is Time to Talk Day, and everyone around the UK and beyond is being encouraged to spend 5 minutes having a conversation about mental health on the day to help break down the stigma surrounding the topic. Whether with friends and family, at work, in school or university or within the wider community, anywhere is a good place to talk.
A bolt is shot back somewhere in our breast,
And a lost pulse of feeling stirs again.
The eyes sinks inward, and the heart lies plain,
And what we mean, we say, and what we would, we know.
A man becomes aware of his life’s flow,
And hears its winding murmur; and he sees
The meadows where it glides, the sun, the breeze.
– Matthew Arnold, The Buried Life
Shared reading goes hand-in-hand with stimulating good mental health and wellbeing, with the literature that is read reflecting life often in its toughest times. Through exploring the words of our greatest writers – many of whom experienced tests and tribulations – our weekly groups open up a space where thoughts and feelings can be explored and worked through together, while also providing new perspectives to emerge from the texts and the characters within them.
“It’s good because our lives are like stories.” – shared reading group member on an acute mental health ward
We work in a variety of mental health and community settings on a weekly basis from Liverpool and the North West to the South West and London, with our groups giving members the chance to read, talk and feel better:
“When reading, I could use my voice to express ideas from someone else, outside myself, not to be judged, not to be evaluated by what I meant, not to be diagnosed by my turn of phrase, but just to speak and be heard. When reading, over time I was able to measure my road to recovery, in the clarity of my vision, thought and voice as I got better.” – former inpatient and library shared reading group member
72% of our group members felt that shared reading had helped them to think about things in a different way, and 70% feel their group has helped them to understand people better.
Ahead of Time to Talk Day, our project workers have given us some recommendations of poems that have been enjoyed in our shared reading groups in mental health settings – all great sources to get you talking about mental health and much more.
- The Door – Miroslav Holub
- The Journey – Mary Oliver
- What if this Road – Sheenagh Pugh
- Phenomenal Woman – Maya Angelou
- A Return – Elizabeth Jennings
- The Ideal – James Fenton
- Kindness – Naomi Shihab Nye
- I am Completely Different – Sabura Kurado
- A Time to Talk – Robert Frost
- When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes (Sonnet 29) – William Shakespeare
Find out more about Time to Talk Day and how you can get involved: http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/timetotalkday