Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nurse's Novel Way to Combat Stigma

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Nurse's Novel Way to Combat Stigma

Article excerpt

Byline: Barbara Hodgson Reporter barbara.hodgson@ncjmedia.co.uk

ANURSE has come up with a novel way of fighting the stigma that can still exist around mental illness.

Gosforth mum-of-three Beda Higgins, who has 30 years' health care experience, including as a psychiatric nurse, has written a collection of stories that do not shy away from conditions such as depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder.

And in Little Crackers she throws in plenty funny moments to lighten the subject matter.

The book is being published this week, with an official launch to follow at Blackwells in Newcastle on Thursday, and Beda is hoping her entertaining read will help combat prejudice and fear surrounding mental illness.

Humour can often be a coping mechanism for patients and staff alike.

"There always is humour in health matters," says Beda, "and certainly in some health professions you need humour to be able to do the job properly - obviously in the right context."

She adds: "Although some of the stories have a lighter element, a lot are very dark and consider the deeper issues. I tried to get the balance."

Beda, who was originally from Lancashire, moved to the region because of her husband's job and she's now combining a flourishing writing career here with her nursing job of the past 30 years.

She's been writing seriously for the past decade after her initial interest grew from a desire to develop writing projects with patients. Newcastle Health Authority helped with funding to do a MA in creative writing at Northumbria University in 2000, and "from there it moved on from being a hobby to being more vocational".

She's won two Queen's Nursing Institute Awards for her successful writing projects, including one benefiting St Oswald's Hospice patients with life-limiting illnesses. …

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