Research is vital, when it comes to writing about mental health issues, in a fictional context.
I can’t place enough emphasis upon this point. We need to get the facts right, whether or not, as I mentioned previously, we have personal experience of struggling with mental illness – because each case is different.
In an area where there is already much stigma and misunderstanding, it’s of particular importance not to make matters worse, by spreading inaccurate information.
Research should not be limited to official sources.
It should definitely include them, but not exclusively.
Personal accounts, from a variety of sources, sufferers and also carers, are essential.
One of the many resources that can help with this is You Tube, where many people openly discuss their own mental health journeys.
Books, blogs, and talking to people you already know, who have “been there” – all of these are readily available, and can provide so much insight and inspiration.
Of course, you shouldn’t actually use any particular person’s actual story, in any way that is identifiable, but listening to various people, who are willing to open up about their struggles with mental illness, will help you to deepen your understanding of mental health issues in general.
The reality certainly cannot be reflected in dry academic accounts alone.
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All very important points. I would add only one thing: if you are doing historical fiction, look at the treatments of the time. Most were barbaric, sure, but there were also some revolutionary things that came along in the late 18th and early 19th C.
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That’s an excellent point, Sharon – thank you.