Horror Writers Association Launches Mental Health Initiative
The Horror Writers Association is pleased to launch its Mental Health Initiative, a coordinated roll-out of events, resources, and activities intended to promote positive mental health, foster the concept of hope, and challenge the stigma of mental illness in the horror genre. The initiative, run by the organisation’s Wellness Committee, debuts in June 2022 and will form part of an ongoing programme.
Activities planned for 2022 include establishing a dedicated webpage for resources on the HWA website, publication of Of Horror and Hope, a downloadable anthology of poems, flash fiction, and personal reflections on mental health by HWA members, “Holistic Horrors” a monthly column in the organisation’s newsletter, several panel sessions, as well as articles and blogs published in the wider genre community.
“The HWA should be commended for being bold in its approach to tackling the stigma of mental illness in the genre,” says Wellness Committee Co-chair, Dave Jeffery, who spent 35 years as a mental healthcare professional in the UK’s National Health Service. “To my mind, it is the first time such an initiative, with a specific focus on hope and recovery, has been developed for the horror community, and there are currently discussions as to how the Wellness Committee can develop further resources over the coming years.”
Jeffery’s co-chair, New Zealander Lee Murray, agrees: “Our intent is to promote positive images of mental health in horror, and to create an environment of understanding and compassion. For me, as a sufferer of anxiety and depression, inclusion is extremely important—that notion of lifting something up to the light, so we realise that many of us experience the same things, and that we’re not alone.”
HWA President, John Palisano, welcomed the initiative, stating, “The HWA’s Mental Health Initiative is exactly the sort of support and resource the organization should be offering members. It means a great deal to me personally to see this come to be, as it’s as important as things get. I’m beyond grateful to those putting so much effort into this and I have all faith this will be an extremely helpful initiative for many.”
The initiative’s logo, created by Australian horror artist, Greg Chapman, features Poe, arguably the father or horror, bathed in comforting yellow light, with the HWA’s raven on his shoulder. “The concept of this logo and, by extension, its committee and services, is to be a guiding light, and for the HWA to always be there on members’ shoulders supporting them,” says Chapman of his design.
More information about the Horror Writers Association and its Mental Health Initiative can be found on the organisation’s website. www.horror.org