CMH are pleased to announce the publication of Olivia Sagan’s Narratives of Art Practice and Mental Wellbeing: Reparation and connection (forthcoming in October 2014 in the Routledge Series: Advances in Mental Health Research). This book draws on extensive research carried out with mental health service users who are also practicing artists. Using narrative data gained through hours of reflective conversation, it explores not whether art can contribute to positive wellbeing and improved mental health – as this is now established ground – but rather how art works, and the role art making can play in people’s lives as they encounter crises, relapse, recovery or ‘beyonding’.
Review by – D Rosier, Artist, CEO of Experts by Experience, London, UK
‘Sagan modestly introduces this book as the amassed findings of her “formalised curiosity” about “how art works for people when pretty much all else fails.”
She unpacks and unpicks the gamut of previous research, writing, thinking and policy-making as well as interrogating the criteria and language which underpins it all. She offers findings from a large number of interviews with people with lived experience, sometimes over many years. In her words, “These narratives also bring into question a commonly held belief that an analytic journey can only be undertaken through a professional intermediary.”
Throughout the book Sagan raises one fundamental question or critique after another: after sublimating her voice to those of her interviewees, it’s enormously welcome that she draws some conclusions and offers some ways forward in the final chapter.
Sensitive, extremely moving, complex, layered, nuanced and sophisticated, it’s truly a heavyweight book in a slim volume. One can only hope that it will reach an audience whereby it can fundamentally influence and improve treatment, policy-making and funding, as it rightly should.’
Olivia Sagan is a Chartered Psychologist, Counsellor and Senior Lecturer in Psychology. She is currently Academic Co-ordinator for Psychology at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln, UK.