In light of our 5th anniversary this year, we’d like to share with you a bit more about the people behind The Lily-Jo Project!
Next up is blog and script writer, Emma Hinds.
Emma has been working with us at The Lily-Jo Project since 2018, and she supports us by writing articles for our blog and scripts for our online learning platform.
Here’s a bit more about Emma’s background, perspective on mental health, and her ongoing creative work outside of The Lily-Jo Project.
About Emma Hinds
Emma is a writer living and working in Manchester. She is a mental health advocate and has been blogging about mental health for the last ten years. Emma has a history of eating disorders and is currently living with a diagnosis of OCD and chronic depression.
She has been working specifically with young people struggling with their mental health for the last four years and is now supporting the Lily Jo Project’s online learning platform for schools.
An Interview with Emma Hinds
Tell us a bit more about your journey as a mental health writer and advocate… have you always considered yourself to be a writer?
I have always wanted to be a writer, ever since I was three years old (or so my Nan says!)
Writing has always been the way that I process and understand the world – it has been my escape, my therapy, and my protest over the years. When I was a child and a teenager, it allowed me to give voice to the parts of my life that were difficult to express, my struggles with anorexia, depression and anxiety.
Throughout those years I continued to write about my own mental health in a blog, but it wasn’t until I joined forces with the Lily-Jo Project in 2018 that I began to write as a mental health advocate on The Lily-Jo Project blog and website. I love doing it, but my career as a writer is primarily in fiction and playwriting.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to your teenage self?
Advocate for yourself because you are worth it.
As a child, I think I believed that I needed to reach a certain level of suffering in order to be worthy of intervention or help. Consequently, I accepted other people’s narratives that nothing was wrong even though I knew it was.
Self advocacy is hard, but so important in mental health. I have learnt how to do it in my adult life, but I know I would have benefited from learning it earlier.
Thinking about your work with The Lily-Jo Project, what article or project are you the most proud of?
I am probably most proud of two things: the copy that I created for the LJP children’s resources online for children and parents to access, and a blog I wrote about handling anxiety in the face of the pandemic. I wrote it in the beginning of March 2020, right before national lockdown began, and it was the second highest read blog on the LJP website. I feel proud to know that at a time when people were struggling, we were able to provide something that might have eased their fear in an extraordinary circumstance.
In your view, what do you consider to be the most pressing and important mental health topic of this moment in time?
I think anyone who doesn’t answer with “post pandemic stress disorder” isn’t paying attention.
We have a whole section of our population who have been exposed to trauma on a daily basis for more than a year. There is a mental health tidal wave approaching of doctors and nurses and caretakers who have been keeping calm and carrying on for far too long. Their mental health deserves to be given attention. That’s not even taking into account the other mental health knock on effects from the pandemic in the general populace.
Studies show us that Gen Z teenagers and young adults have been the most negatively impacted due to the upheaval of key life events, and we know that student mental health has taken a massive dive. There is no walking the pandemic off. We have a lot to do to make sure that the people who need help get the help they deserve.
What blog, book, film, podcast, etc. has been inspiring you lately?
As a writer, I always have multiple books on the go! I love to read fiction and plays and long-form journalism.
A book that I recently read that is an amazing example of how everyday sexism can impact a person’s mental health is KIM JI-YOUNG, BORN 1982 by Cho Nam-ju. It created huge waves in Korean society when it was published and is a great example of how telling a story can help us understand what is wrong with our society.
I also learned a lot from a long-form piece in the Guardian by my favourite writer, Arundhati Roy, about the COVID outbreak in India: We are Witnessing a Crime against humanity. We have such a simplistic understanding of the ‘Indian variant’ from the UK media, but Roy really explains the social and political impact of the pandemic there. I am definitely inspired by her – she is a person who uses her writing to call out injustice.
Can you share a bit more about your creative work outside of The Lily-Jo Project?
I am a novelist and playwright working in Manchester. I write stories about people who often get left behind, particularly women and Queer people, and I use my writing to give their stories a voice.
Sometimes, these stories come from my own life and experiences, sometimes I find them in history. My play PURE which is about sexism in the Christian Church is in development with HER Productions. We had a virtual performance during lockdown at Hope Mill Theatre as part of TURN ON FEST and will hopefully be giving live performances again in 2022.
I am also in the final stages of completing my novel, a story about trauma and magic in the Victorian freak show world, and looking for an agent to represent it!
More from Emma
Looking for more from Emma? Check out some of her recent blog articles for The Lily-Jo Project below.
- How to Support Women’s Mental Health in the Wake of Sarah Everard’s Murder
- Fear of Becoming Sick: 5 Practical Tips for Managing Health Anxiety
- 5 Toxic New Year Narratives and How to Ignore Them
- 5 Tips from Teachers About Managing Mental Health in a Pandemic
- How to Cope With Body Anxiety & Covid-19: 6 Practical Tips
- 5 Practical Tips for Managing Post-Lockdown Anxiety
- Interview with Activist Natasha March: Racism and Mental Health