Mind Reading: The Role of Narrative in Physical and Mental Health and the Experience of Illness is a two-day programme of talks and workshops taking place on 18-19 June 2018 at the University of Birmingham. This event is a collaboration between the University of Birmingham, UCD Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Diseases of Modern Life and Constructing Scientific Communities Projects at St Anne’s College, Oxford.

Do clinicians and patients speak the same language? How might we bridge the evident gaps in communication? How can we use narrative to foster clinical relationships? Or to care for the carers? How does illness impact upon our sense of self?

Together we seek to explore productive interactions between narrative and mental health both historically and in the present day. Bringing together a range of interdisciplinary professionals, including general practitioners, hospital clinicians, psychiatrists, philosophers, service users, and historians of literature and medicine, we will investigate the patient experience through the prism of literature and personal narrative to inform patient-centred care and practice, and focus on ways in which literature might be beneficial in cases of burnout and compassion fatigue.

Speakers and contributors include:

  • Dame Sue Bailey, Professor of Mental Health Policy in North West of England
  • Professor Femi Oyebode, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Birmingham
  • Professor Sally Shuttleworth, Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford
  • Professor Brendan Drumm, Professor of Paediatrics at UCD
  • Professor Chris Fitzpatrick, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, and former Master/CEO, Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital
  • Associate Professor Elizabeth Barrett, Consultant in Child and Adolescent Liaison Psychiatry, Temple Street Children’s University Hospital
  • Dr Neil Vickers, Reader in English Literature and the Medical Humanities at King’s College London
  • Dr Melissa Dickson, Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Birmingham
  • Matt Windle, Birmingham Poet Laureate (2016-2018)

Experts by experience participating include the Action on Postpartum Psychosis and REFOCUS (Recovery Experience Forum of Carers and Users of Services) user groups.

A draft programme is available at

Registration is now open and places can be booked here: https://shop.bham.ac.uk/conferences-and-events/college-of-arts-law/school-of-english-drama-american-canadian-studies/mind-reading-literature-and-mental-health-conference

If you have any questions about the event, please get in touch with Dr Melissa Dickson at m.dickson@bham.ac.uk 


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