In the run-up to the election we sold several hundred signed copies of The Blair Years via the website, with half the proceeds going to the Labour Party. Now I want to do something similar with my first novel, All In The Mind, about a psychiatrist and his patients. But this time the proceeds are time going to mental health charities.
Employing the special deal available to authors, I have bought a supply of copies of the hardback. I am offering signed copies at £14.99 plus postage and packing, with half of the money per copy going to mental health charities.
As you may know I was elected last year’s Mind champion, so Mind is one obvious cause. I am also a campaigner for Time to Change, and work with Rethink on this and other campaigns, so that is another. Rethink is already out there helping to market this – you can order a signed copy from Rethink’s mental health shop. As with The Blair Years, I will individually sign the books, and messages requested can be posted when making an order online.
With The Blair Years scheme we prided ourselves on getting books out in days but as I am about to go for our annual holiday in France, this time people may have to be more patient.
However, if you get an order in in the next three days, I will sign at the weekend, and we will get the books straight out. Anyone else will have to wait till the back end of August.
In good publishing style, once the hardbacks are done, we will move to paperbacks, though for obvious reasons the proceeds for good causes gets diminished.
I am very proud of All In The Mind, partly because of the reviews it received, but more so because of the number of people who have written to say that something within it speaks to a condition they know. I am convinced that the more we can be open about mental illness the better it will be for all of us. So I hope we can raise some decent money for the groups trying to make that happen.
In case you’re still not convinced, I’ll just remind you why I think these are good causes. According to government figures, 1 in 4 of us will be affected by mental health problems at some point in our lives, and more than half the population will have their lives touched by mental illness in some way – whether directly, or someone they care about. It is an enormous issue, yet gets nothing like the attention or support that, say, the fight against cancer does, or heart disease.
About 1 in every 100 people will have an episode of psychosis during their lives. That’s something I’ve been through myself, (see the film Cracking Up in the video archive) and I can vouch for the fact that it’s very frightening, and getting good support is crucial to recovery.
Yet despite it being so common, mental illness remains a big taboo. When the Time to Change campaign was launched we did some research which showed that 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems have experienced some form of stigma or discrimination. People with mental health problems will sometimes tell you that the public misunderstanding, shame and embarrassment can be worse than the symptoms.
Unfortunately, it’s also sometimes a barrier to people seeking the help they need to get better. Not to mention a barrier to work.
As a society, we’ve got some misguided ideas about mental illness – we tend to write people off, assume they won’t get better or ever have careers. In fact around 60% of employers dismiss applications from people with a history of mental illness. They’re missing out on a lot of potential talent.
Of all the mental illnesses the severe conditions like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are probably the most stigmatised of all. But they affect more than 1.5 million people in England.
And with big public spending cuts on the way, we have to be vigilant that mental health does not return to being the Cinderella service of the NHS.
Anyway, I hope this fundraising scheme will raise awareness as well as money, and that anyone who gets the book, for themselves or friends or family, will enjoy it. And finally, thanks to Rethink for handling all the admin side of things!!
*** Buy All In The Mind and raise cash for mental health campaigns