This year’s World Mental Health Day takes place on Friday 10th October, with a focus on the realities of living with schizophrenia. Some 26 million people worldwide are affected by the disorder and this event hopes to raise awareness of the illness and how to cope with it.

Schizophrenia has a number of symptoms which can be managed in different ways; from medication to talk and group therapies - such as mindfulness-based therapies and art therapies.

Getting involved in the creative process, whether drawing, painting or writing poetry or prose, allows a sense of escapism for a variety of mental health needs, while encouraging the artist to express raw emotion in a controlled and honest way.

Last week’s annual National Poetry Day offered one such opportunity, encouraging the public to think of a poem that had impacted their lives or that they remembered from their childhood. In keeping with this year’s theme “remembering”, some entrants reproduced lines from well-known books and verses while others penned their own nostalgia-filled pieces.

We created Postcard of Hope with a similar intention: a creative project launched in collaboration with Black Rainbow author Rachel Kelly, Postcards of Hope asks those affected by mental health to share something which has given them hope. Submissions have included well-known quotes and lines from famous poems, often focused on the remedial power of words and how sharing our experiences through poetry helps to reduce a sense of isolation and build greater understanding of our internal worlds.

It is hoped that Postcards of Hope will provide a platform for individuals to shine a light on the realities of living with mental health difficulties and tackles prejudices towards those living with such illnesses.  We encourage you to create and share a poem or artwork about living with schizophrenia or any mental health conditions from your own point of view or that of a friend or family member. Visit Postcards of Hope and share your own card with us.

Gemma Taylor, media assistant.