Writing Minds: Can creative writing aid our lockdown mental health?

Sam Wood

Lockdown has created issues in many areas, including for wellbeing and creative relief. Dr Eleanor Perry of the School of English explains the benefits that creative writing can have for those under lockdown, and reveals the new writing project that is open to all.

‘Mental health is a priority in the time of COVID-19 lockdown, particularly with enforced social distancing and self-isolation. What’s more, the effects and impacts of lockdown measures are likely to have repercussions on mental health for some time to come. Now there is a greater need usual for creative outlets, community spaces, and opportunities to express and share experiences.

‘There is a wealth of academic literature highlighting the benefits of creativity as an outlet for anxiety and stress and a means of promoting wellbeing, notably including therapeutic potential of writing creatively. A 2007 Arts for Health consultation highlights the improvement of perceived wellbeing through “the experience of challenge and creative inspiration within an positive and supportive environment” (Arts for Health, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2007).

‘Now, more than ever, these kinds of creative and supportive environments offer a space for community, connectedness, expression and reflection.

‘University of Kent’s Writing Minds project provides just this kind of space. Open to the entire public, the website offers regular creative prompts and experiments designed to tap into new forms of inspiration drawn from the everyday. No creative writing experience is necessary to take part, and the site offers the option for participants to share their work.

‘The project grew from a series of workshops delivered in 2019 at Kent, offering students ways of exploring and articulating their mental health experiences in non-prescriptive ways, through zine-making, collage, scrap-booking, basic print-making and sound recordings. Participants felt that the workshops gave them a pocket to breathe and allowed them to realise how relaxing and therapeutic creative writing can be. Now, the Writing Minds project has grown into a virtual space that aims to offer creative inspiration, and a means to share creative experiences, as part of an online community.

‘The potential for Writing Minds as an outlet for stress and anxiety cannot be understated, even if it is just understood as an option for those looking for support. All are welcome.’

All those interested in accessing Writing Minds can do so here.