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Resources for Writers

Writing about Mental Illness by Paul Anthony Shortt

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Article by Paul Anthony Shortt ©.
Posted in Resources (, ).

Earlier this week I opened up on my blog, talking a little about my recent experiences as I’ve come to accept that I’m suffering from anxiety and depression. I’ve talked before, of course, about how important it is to look after your mental health. But today’s article is about writing characters with mental illness. I believe it’s important to normalise this issue, and help people come to terms and seek out the help they need.

Unfortunately, mental illness is quite often badly-portrayed, which leads to the further stigma of mental health issues. Mental illness, much like scars or a deformity, is frequently used as a short-hand for negative character traits, and that’s a habit to steer away from.

1: 5 Things I Want Hollywood to Know About Mental Illness – The Mighty is a great resource for mental health issues, and this article points out the most common problems that stem from a writer misunderstanding a particular illness.

2: Mental Illness in Fiction – Kathleen S. Allen gives an overview of mental illness and how authors can, and should, portray it well. She also includes links to several other resources you can use.

3: 5 Sci Fi and Fantasy Novels That Treat Mental Illness With Compassion – I’ve always felt that sci fi and fantasy was the place you could go and find somewhere to belong, no matter who you are or what’s going on in your life. Barnes and Noble here recommend five such novels that tackle mental health.

4: 11 of the Most Realistic Portrayals of Mental Illness in Novels – There have been some incredible novels that deal with mental illness, so this list is an excellent place to learn how other authors have handled it. And since it’s also important to consider how teenagers cope with mental illness, you should also consider this article, 8 of the Most Realistic Portrayals of Mental Illness in Contemporary YA.

5: 16 Fictional Characters Who Actually Portray Mental Illness Accurately – If you were under any doubts of the importance of representing mental illness correctly, these remarks from people who’ve been helped by seeing their illness portrayed well should convince you.

That’s all for this week. Good luck, and take care.


Paul Anthony Shortt believes in magic and monsters; in ghosts and fairies, the creatures that lurk under the bed and inside the closet. The things that live in the dark, and the heroes who stand against them. Above all, he believes that stories have the power to change the world, and the most important stories are the ones which show that monsters can be beaten.
Paul's work includes the Memory Wars Trilogy and the Lady Raven Series. His short fiction has appeared in the Amazon #1 bestselling anthology, Sojourn Volume 2.

Website: http://www.paulanthonyshortt.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pashortt

Twitter: @PAShortt