A Year In Our Lives 2020

A Year In Our Lives 2020

About A Year In Our Lives

2020 will always be remembered as the year our lives changed dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic. We want to find out how this is affecting people’s emotional and mental health. ‘A Year in Our Lives’ will gather and share the first-hand experiences of people living through the pandemic.

We want to find creative, truthful and open ways to tell the story of 2020 alongside the many surveys and academic studies that are already taking place. To do that, we need your stories.

We’re looking for written pieces of up to 2,000 words, submitted via our online form.

Watch this video to find out more about the project:

What to write about

Whether you have had a mental health difficulty before or not, whatever age you are, wherever you are from, let us know how coronavirus and the sudden changes to our lives have affected your mental health, using this question as a starting point:

How has your emotional and mental health been affected by the coronavirus pandemic?

Some prompts to get you started:

  • You might want to write about one specific day or experience, or you might want to reflect on the impact the pandemic has had on you over the year.
  • You could tell us what’s helping you cope, whether that’s something you’ve done or someone else who has helped you.
  • You may wish to write about the impact on your family, trying to juggle home working with home schooling, or of living alone during the pandemic.
  • The impact of missing school, college or university, of being furloughed or at risk of redundancy, or of going out to work.
  • Did you take up new hobbies or find yourself cut off from your usual activities?
  • Were you lonely or anxious? Or did you find life hadn’t changed that much? Perhaps you even found a personal resilience that you hadn’t expected?

This is your opportunity to share an insight into your world and your life. We want to hear your own experiences in your own words, whatever the impact on you has been. There are no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ responses, and nothing is off-limits.


What will happen to my piece?

Our team will review each piece to ensure it doesn’t violate our guidelines around defamatory, libellous or hate speech. We will then publish accounts on our website in tranches between July 2020 and March 2021.

Your piece will help to shape our understanding of how coronavirus has impacted the nation’s mental health. In the spring and summer of 2021, all stories will undergo anonymous thematic analysis by our researchers to explore differences in themes from different localities and communities; but also the differences in themes depending on when the accounts are submitted during the project, to compare immediate versus longer-term impact. The analysis will also seek a narrative on how people have coped and what they have found helpful. Our research, including the accounts we've analysed, will be published on our website.


Guidelines for writing your contribution

  • Entries can be anything up to 2,000 words.
  • Feel free to write however you feel most comfortable; whether text/prose or poetry.
  • You can choose whether you wish the piece to be published in your name, anonymously, or under a pseudonym.
  • Your entry may be viewed by anyone, shared across social media etc, so please don’t share anything you don’t want people to know.
  • The online form will be open from June 2020 to January 2021; and you can choose whether to send it early on in the process or wait a bit longer. Please share only one piece with us.
  • Please don’t use the names of people, services or organisations you interact with. You might instead say ‘my local Community Mental Health Team’ or ‘a friend’. If you do include other people in your story, please give them different names to protect their privacy too.
  • Please avoid identifying where you live. You may wish to use a town name, but please avoid using anything more specific which might make it possible for someone to work out your exact location.
  • Centre for Mental Health will review each entry before it is shared or used in analysis. We may get in touch with you if we need to make minor changes (e.g. removing identifying features). We maintain the right to not publish entries which could be considered hate speech or libellous.
  • When you submit your piece, you will be need to share your name and email address. We will separately ask you for some optional details about who you are and where you're from, as we'd like to gain a sense of how the pandemic has affected people in different circumstances and in different places. Any data you choose to provide will be protected, in accordance with GDPR.
  • Please do not submit a piece via email, as we can’t accept contributions other than through the form.


Mark Brown shares some guidance on writing about your experience:

If you have any questions about submitting a piece, the research, or anything else related to the Year In Our Lives project, get in touch with us: ourlives@centreformentalhealth.org.uk

If at any point the process of writing about your experience causes you any emotional distress, please see our helplines page which provides details of organisations that can provide support. We have also put together a page of mental health resources and information related to coronavirus that you may find helpful.

Photo by Retha Ferguson from Pexels


Frequently Asked Questions


Do I have to have a mental health difficulty to take part?

No – we want to hear from everyone about the impact coronavirus has had on your wellbeing and mental health, whether or not you have had a mental health difficulty.

Can I submit more than one piece?

We are asking all participants to submit only one piece, to get a broad snapshot of perspectives across the UK with as many different voices as possible, to ensure everyone who participates has an equal part in the picture.

Is this an anonymous process?

You can choose whether you want to be named on your piece or not. If you choose to be named, your name will appear when your story is published and may also be used in association with the piece across social media. You can also choose to remain anonymous when we publish your story. Either way, we will need to collect your name email address, so that we know who you are and can contact you if there are any issues with your submission.

We will also ask for some basic details which are totally optional to complete. These will help us to analyse key trends across the submissions by locality, age etc.

Can I submit a piece as a video, drawing or voice note?

We are only accepting written pieces for this project, for a host of reasons including to enable clearer thematic analysis. If an accessibility issue prevents you from submitting a written piece, please get in touch with us.

What if I want to withdraw consent?

You can do this at any point by emailing ourlives@centreformentalhealth.org.uk

What's in it for me?

Creative expression can be beneficial for our mental health in helping us to process events and our responses to them. You may find writing down your thoughts to be a helpful outlet, especially when things can easily feel overwhelming. As Mark Brown explains in the video above, history always remembers the big details but often forgets the small ones. It's so important that we have a record of what it was actually like for everyday people to live through this crisis. Your experience will be unique to you, and we really want to reflect as wide a range of people's voices as possible. By submitting your story to us, you'll be contributing a valuable piece to the puzzle of how we understand the mental health impact of Covid-19 and how it was felt across different communities. This project also provides you with the opportunity to see your writing published on a prominent mental health platform and part of an important piece of mental health research.

Last modified
22/12/2020 - 14:46

Let’s get better mental health support for all

The coronavirus pandemic is a physical health emergency on a global scale, such as we have never seen in our lifetimes. But it is also a mental health emergency.

We are taking action to help those at the frontline of this mental health crisis.

Now more than ever, your support is so valuable. Please take this journey with us - donate today.

You can help by donating as little as £1

Donate now