Literature and Mental Health: Reading for Wellbeing (MOOC)

This MOOC is called
Literature and Mental Health, and I think it’s
a unique course. I think, for me, literature
is inspirational. It’s healing. It can help us not feel alone. It may have been
written 400 years ago, and yet, it still
speaks to me today. Literature provides a unique
insight into other minds. You will be able to think afresh
and gain new understand of some of the really difficult
mental health questions that we all have to face. Each week takes a
different theme, such as stress, dementia,
heartbreak, bereavement, and then we built
that week around poems that we think will
be relevant, helpful. We get moving testimony from the
writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg. We also speak to the
great actor Ian McKellan and Stephen Fry gave us
a very moving interview. He loves poetry,
and he talked to us about the ways in which
poetry has helped him through bouts of depression. The doctors that we’re
working with on the course are incredibly
interested in the ways in which literature can be used
for science and for medicine. We think that the
kind of concentration provided by a short poem
is of enormous value in stressful times. We also have a range
of other texts, though you don’t have
to read the whole novel. We’ll have extracts up online. There will be reading lists,
and there’ll be extra activities if you wanted to do more. So I’m seeing this as a very
scalable, very flexible course. Learners become part of
the community where you share experiences with others. It can be a genuine
dialogue, not only between the past
and the present, but also among the learners.

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