It is no great secret that reading and writing are very effective forms of therapy, they can act as an escape from the pressures of everyday life or a friendly and non-judgmental ear for your troubles.

Literature can help people express and relate to emotions that they could not otherwise have put into words; it can be a platform for speaking about the unspeakable. 

Our three panelists all know what it is like to go through the long process of recovering from and coming to terms with mental health difficulties. Join Poppy Jaman, CEO of Mental Health First Aid England, poet Dean Atta, and novelist Lyn G Farrell, for a warm, open and insightful discussion, chaired by Yasir Mirza, about looking after your mind and the role that literature can play in this difficult process.

About The Speakers

Dean Atta

Dean was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize for his poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger. He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. His novel, The Black Flamingo, will be published in August by Hodder Children’s Books.

Lyn G Farrell

Lyn G. Farrell is the winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary and The Wacky Man is her debut novel. Lyn grew up in Lancashire where she would have gone to school if life had been different. She spent most of her teenage years reading anything she could get her hands on. She studied Psychology at the University of Leeds and now works in the School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.

Poppy Jaman

Poppy Jaman is the CEO and one of the co-founders of Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England. In eight years she has turned the organisation from a small government project into a fast-growing, commercially successful Community Interest Company (CIC). She has over 19 years’ experience of influencing and leading change in public mental health.

About The Chair

Yasir Mirza

Yasir is former head of diversity & inclusion and journalist at The Guardian, where he devised and ran citizen reporting/journalism training programmes with marginalised communities in Australia, India, South Africa, Brazil, USA, and Algeria.  He has presented for the UN, World Forum for Democracy, BBC, taught at Westminster University, and is currently a senior consultant at the Media Diversity Institute. Yasir is also an actor.