Today I’m lucky enough to have two fantastic blog tour posts and this is a Q&A with Dean Burnett, the book Psycho-logical was very aptly released on World Mental Health Day.
1. What was your inspiration for writing Psycho-logical?
I’ve been writing about mental health matters for many years now, and people seem to really like when I do, and find it useful. I’ve long wanted to put all my knowledge down in a book, I figured that’d be even more helpful, Audible offered the opportunity to do so, so I took it
2. What do you hope readers get from it? And who are you aiming this audiobook at?
I’m hoping to ‘ground’ mental health matters in more tangible ways. By explaining the mechanisms and actual workings of the brain in things like depression etc, I can hopefully reduce stigma and further understanding. It’s aimed at literally anyone who struggles with, knows anyone who struggles with, or is just interested in, mental health issues.
3. I think it’s a subject we should speak about more and it’s something that needs to be done in a controlled manner. Would you agree?
Indeed. While I think it’s important that people can share their experiences, I feel it can often lead to things getting out of hand, and discussions can lose sight of the actual facts, as we see them
4. What’s your average writing day?
It’s mostly spent in my garden, where I have a dedicated writing cabin. It’s basically me, sat in a wooden box, typing for many hours a day, occasionally disrupted by my cat fighting other neighbourhood cats on the roof
5. Did writing this audiobook take it out of you emotionally as well as physically?
Perhaps a bit, but this effect was mitigated by the fact that it’s all stuff I’ve been writing and teaching about for years. Hearing the contributions from my friends who shared their mental health experiences was often very moving though.
6. Where would you like mental health to be in 5 years time? Do you think as a society we would have moved on into a way of helping rather than of taboo?
I wouldn’t be able to say exactly where mental health will be, but the progress has been good and I’m hoping it will continue. It’s more widely accepted and acknowledged now, compared to how it was, but i’d like to increase understanding and acceptance of the mechanisms and science, rather than a focus on inspirational memes or well-meant but largely meaningless platitudes
7. Who are your biggest inspirations in terms of writing and why?
I don’t really have specific inspirations or role models, I’ve always been sceptical about the idea of modelling your life and goals on someone else’s. I think, if I had to pick though, it was Spike Milligan who had the biggest impact, especially his war diaries. The mix of brilliant humour and deep tragedy and introspective analysis showed me that it was possible to do such a thing.
8. Did you write this from personal experience, and if so can you explain?
All the stuff I write is things I’ve learned, but I don’t have mental health problems of my own thus far. However, my background, growing up in a pub in a remote economically-depressed community, as well as being a resident of Bridgend and the suicide spate in the late 2000s, these all informed my compassionate approach and constant desire to improve mental health understanding.
9. What is your advice for anyone suffering?
It’s tricky. There’s so much advice out there, and a lot of it is contradictory or well-meant but ineffective. I guess I’d just want to point out that your issues and your suffering is genuine, and anyone dismissing it has no right to do so. It’s your mind, only you can say what goes on in it
10. What do you hope to Psycho-logical achieves?
I’m hoping it can reduce fear and uncertainty, and hopefully stigma, around mental health. If just one person feels better about their issues or situation, that would be enough.
Thank you Dean for joining me today…if you would like to know more about the book here is the blurb.
Countless charities and awareness campaigns work tirelessly to show people that mental health problems are common and serious issues. But when it comes to mental health matters, one question that’s rarely asked is…why?
Why are conditions like depression and anxiety so common?
Why is our mental health so vulnerable to the stresses and events of modern life?
Why do so many mental health problems have pronounced physical symptoms?
Why, if mental health problems are so commonplace, does anyone need to be made ‘aware’ of them in the first place?
And why is there still so much confusion and stigma about mental health matters?