British public invited to write their own record of the pandemic and its effects on mental health

28 December 2020


Centre for Mental Health is today asking people across the country to share their story of living through the Covid-19 pandemic and how it has affected their mental health. A Year in Our Lives is a ground-breaking project to hear people’s experiences of living through the pandemic and how it has affected their wellbeing.

As we come to the end of 2020, and a Christmas holiday that for many of us has been lonely, uncertain and stressful, we’re inviting people to take some time to reflect and write about what this year has been like for them.

Centre for Mental Health launched A Year in Our Lives in June 2020 with the aim of providing a space for people to tell their stories. Since then, it has published engaging, moving and sometimes witty stories and poems from people across the nation who have shared the impact that Covid-19 has had on their mental health.

One writer, for instance, expresses the desperate loss of being separated from a partner with dementia in a care home, sharing the pain of witnessing a loved one’s decline from a distance. Others talk about the impact of school and university work being completely turned on their heads by lockdown. And while almost all have written about the challenges of this year, many have also shared valuable lessons from lockdown, with one writer reflecting “I’ve discovered a resilience I didn’t know I had”.

People who have already taken part in the project have shared that they found the process of writing and reflecting on getting through the year cathartic, helping them to come to terms with all the difficulties of 2020.

Today we’re asking more people to get involved in this historic project, to help build a picture about the impact of the pandemic on our wellbeing.

Chief Executive Sarah Hughes said: “2020 has been a year like no other. It has been challenging for all of us in so many ways. At a time when so many of us have felt more isolated than ever, A Year in Our Lives is an amazing reminder that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, and that so many others are having to deal with similar hopes and fears.

“We want people up and down the country to tell us how the pandemic has affected their mental health. We hope that this simple creative act will not only help us hear the untold stories of the year but also will help people to process their thoughts and feelings at such a difficult time.

“Whatever age we are, wherever we’re from and whatever this year has been like for us, we all have a story to tell about this year. Whether you’ve written before or not, whether you’ve talked about your mental health before or not, we want to hear from you. And together we want to create the people’s story of 2020 and what it’s meant for our mental health.”

David Gilbert, a poet and mental health service user said: “It was good to write about stuff that mattered – very cathartic. And that feels good in such a miserable year. More than that, poetry and prose can be a way of coming at things differently. It can be part of the healing that you never knew was happening inside you.”

Get involved in A Year in Our Lives, and take a read of the pieces so far

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