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New Book Of Writing By Herefordshire Men Living With Mental Health


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‘Cathartic, a little bit scary and ultimately immensely rewarding’

A group of men in Herefordshire who have been living with mental ill health have produced a book of their own writing.

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Further Beyond Words showcases original poetry and short stories by men who use creative writing to help them deal with anxiety, depression or other mental health issues.

Many of the 20 poems and stories delve into darker urges and emotions in a cathartic way, while others express hope, positivity and a sense of recovery.

Herefordshire-based horticulturalist, broadcaster and writer Monty Don, who has faced his own struggles with mental illness, wrote the foreword, and all artwork is by students at Hereford College of Arts.

The book is a result of a collaboration between two prominent Hereford-based mental health champions and FurtherBeyond, a local creative writing project.

The two main driving forces, Euan McPherson, chief executive of Hereford Services for Independent Living (who also supports Hereford Men’s Mental Health group), and Cllr Paul Stevens, Mayor of Hereford, have experienced mental ill health themselves – and both have contributed poems.

Euan said:

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“Our hope is that Further Beyond Words will help raise awareness of men’s mental health issues and inspire others to try creative or personal writing.”

Paul said:

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“When we started seeing all the great writing by members of the group and others, Euan and I felt it would be timely to help the men share their work and hopefully, in turn, encourage others. We’re delighted that HCA students were inspired to provide such fantastic illustrations.”

One contributor, who uses the pen-name BlackDog, said:

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“I'd never considered putting pen to paper before it was suggested by the HMMH group as an opportunity. Suddenly I’d found a way of expressing emotions and feelings that I was otherwise unable to convey - not just to other people but even to myself.

‘Using creative writing as a recovery tool was cathartic, a little bit scary and ultimately immensely rewarding.”

 

Another contributor, known as Glyn, said:

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“I found the whole process of of writing my feelings down expressively and sharing them hugely beneficial. Through this book I’m hoping that someone else is helped in a similar way.”

Monty Don writes in his foreword:

“There is still far too much ignorance, shame and fear surrounding mental illness. So it is especially important that publications like this, as well as being a celebration of the creativity that can emerge from troubled minds and troubled times, can help confront these attitudes.

‘Art, of all kinds, can put our own minds right and can change others’ minds.”

Funding was provided by Herefordshire Community Foundation and Great Places.

The book will be available for purchase from the Services for Independent Living website www.s4il.co.uk with all proceeds going to support Hereford Men's Mental Health (HMMH) group – Further details to follow.

 

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