Creative writing in recovery from severe mental illness.

Int J Ment Health Nurs. 2013 Oct;22(5):444-52. doi: 10.1111/j.1447-0349.2012.00891.x. Epub 2012 Dec 5.


There is evidence that creative writing forms an important part of the recovery experience of people affected by severe mental illness. In this paper, we consider theoretical models that explain how creative writing might contribute to recovery, and we discuss the potential for creative writing in psychosocial rehabilitation. We argue that the rehabilitation benefits of creative writing might be optimized through focus on process and technique in writing, rather than content, and that consequently, the involvement of professional writers might be important. We describe a pilot workshop that deployed these principles and was well-received by participants. Finally, we make recommendations regarding the role of creative writing in psychosocial rehabilitation for people recovering from severe mental illness and suggest that the development of an evidence base regarding the effectiveness of creative writing is a priority.

The effects of expressive writing following first myocardial infarction: a randomized controlled trial.

Health Psychol. 2011 Sep;30(5):642-50. doi: 10.1037/a0023519.

Willmott L1, Harris P, Gellaitry G, Cooper V, Horne R.

To assess the effects of expressive writing on health care utilization, clinical variables and subjective quality of life following first myocardial infarction (MI).


One-hundred and seventy-nine first MI patients were randomized to Intervention (N = 88) or Control (N = 91) groups. The intervention group wrote about their thoughts and feelings in relation to having had an MI. Controls wrote in a neutral way about daily activities. The main outcome measures were health care utilization, physical status and subjective quality of life (QOL), assessed after one, two, and five months.


One-hundred and fifty-six (87%) completed the study. Five months post-intervention, the intervention group had significantly fewer recorded medical appointments compared to controls. The number of prescribed medicines decreased over time within the intervention group but increased within the control group. The intervention group attended significantly more rehabilitation sessions, reported fewer cardiac related symptoms and had lower diastolic blood pressure five months post-intervention. There was no significant group by time interaction on reported physical health. The group by time interaction on reported mental health approached significance, those in the intervention group reporting greater improvement.


Expressive writing may be a beneficial strategy which could be incorporated into rehabilitation interventions to help individuals adjust after first MI.