Graphic: Community members writing for mental health

Writing to help mental health

Date published

12 Dec 2017

Our mental health team at Broken Hill Base recently partnered with Rural Adversity Mental Health Program, Tibooburra Village Committee and Packsaddle Roadhouse  to offer several writing workshops to  communities in the region.

“The workshops were presented by Stephanie Dale, award-winning journalist, author and founder of The Write Road,” says mental health nurse Vanessa Latham. “The Write Road delivers writing skills in rural and remote areas.  Research shows that writing has significant effects on mental health and wellbeing.  Participants learnt how to use writing as a tool for clarifying problems and finding solutions and ways forward as we experience life’s routines and challenges.
“We value opportunities to show people how to help themselves prevent mental health issues. It’s not just about treating problems once they’ve happened.”

Aside from the therapeutic benefits of writing, Vanessa found that others attended to learn how to write down people’s stories, their own and others.

“Some felt strongly about capturing the history of special people in their lives or in the community,” she says. “They felt privileged to have heard their stories and didn’t want them lost to for those to come.”

Each workshop was different and lasted a couple of hours. They were held in different places  – indoors and in scenic outback settings and some workshops combined photography techniques to enhance perception and language when writing our stories. 

The workshops were open to the community and some of the Flying Doctor team in the area also participated where they could.

“They were a great way for people to get to know about the services we offer in mental health, as well as to develop their own writing skills,” says Vanessa. “And for people who are often isolated, it was also a great social event which gave them new skills to use when they’re back home.”