Publishers are marking Mental Health Awareness Week by encouraging authors to talk openly about mental health, hosting "positive mental attitude workouts” at their offices and engaging in frank discussions in podcasts and online.
The week-long campaign, taking place 14th – 20th May, is this year focused on tackling stress – something the Mental Health Foundation believes can go a long way to addressing mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.
Mainstream publishers, particularly those with wellness imprints, have been galvanising their authors to participate in the week-long campaign and rolling out competitions and social media campaigns.
Octopus is offering a pair of tickets to its Nourish & Inspire Wellness Day on 30th June, where authors will discuss topics including self-care, mindfulness and "ridding your life of negativity". It is also working with Danielle Marchant, author of Pause and Pause Everyday (publishing in June), who will "blow pause bubbles" across social media - a Mental Health Awareness Week campaign quietly feeding out positive thoughts online in the form of circular images with quotes, phrases or thoughts at their centre. Faisal Abdalla will be coming into Octopus' offices to lead a “Positive Mental Attitude workout”, too.
Hodder imprint Yellow Kite plans to share "pearls of wisdom and inspiration” on social media from its authors published over the last four and a half years. Senior marketing manager Caitriona Horne said: "Our authors range from doctors and experts to ordinary people with incredible stories to share … we are conscious of our responsibility to publish books to help readers live a good life and to use our online platforms to encourage other people to share their own journeys."
Going into Mental Health Awareness Week, Pan Macmillan imprint Bluebird is publishing three titles: The Stranger on the Bridge by Jonny Benjamin, MBE, out 3rd May, Natasha Devon's A Beginner's Guide to Being Mental: An A-Z (A is for Anxiety, Z is for Zero F**ks Given) and the paperback of Russell Brand's Recovery: Freedom from Your Addictions, both out on 17th May.
Events around the two new books' publications include an appearance by Benjamin in conversation with Bryony Gordon at Waterstones Piccadilly, just before Mental Health Awareness Week on 8th May, Benjamin and Devon in conversation at Twitter's headquarters in London on 14th May and an appearance from Devon at Mind Reposition, an event with former Premier League footballer and boxer Leon Mckenzie.
Bluebird is publishing Benjamin's five-part manifesto on "what we need to create better conditions for mental health online" on Pacmacmillan.com and has partnered with charity Re:Think on the project, as well as working with the Samaritans, Calm and Sane to promote the title. Meanwhile, members of staff at the imprint will get involved by each choosing a book on mental health and posting about what it means to them across Bluebird's social media channels throughout the week. Staff will send out a Mental Health Awareness week special newsletter to all subscribers, and will be hosting an in-house event for Pan Mac staff, where several authors, including Shahroo Izadi (author of The Kindness Method), will all discuss their own approaches to mental health, and their personal journeys.
To challenge the stigma around mental illness during #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, independent publisher Trigger Press is embarking on a social media campaign including online influencer outreach and traditional publicity activity, such as competitions and discounts.
The publisher, set up in 2016 by Adam Shaw and The Shaw Mind Foundation, solely publishes books focused on mental health and is now enlisting some of its leading authors including instagrammers, bloggers and youtubers to get their followers to "say no to mental health stigma and start the conversation" using the hashtag #breakthestigma. They include Lucy Nichol, author of A Series of Unfortunate Stereotypes, which tackles various stereotypes placed on people living with mental illness, and Chris Young, who has Borderline Personality Disorder and authored Walk a Mile: Tales of a Wandering Loon.
It is also launching a new wave of audiobooks on the first day of Mental Health Awareness Week (starting with Shiny Happy Person by Terri Cox), and getting authors to share their advice on managing their mental health through a video campaign on social media.
Trigger's managing director James Waller commented: "By having these conversations, we will challenge and overcome stigma, change misperceptions and improve understanding across all parts of our society, so that we begin to better manage our own mental health and put it on a par with physical health, and all that that involves."
Research indicates two thirds of us will experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes and one in four of us experience mental health problems each year.