Thursday, 16 January 2014

It's the inside that matters

by Jane Cooke, DIY Futures Project Manager

That’s a truth that many of us recognise – it’s not how we look but how we feel, what we feel strongly about, what hurts or has hurt us, what has shaped us, what brings us joy that matters. That is one of the essential messages of our beautiful book. We were struggling to find a title, going over many suggestions, some of us liked one, some another, but when one of the contributors to the book said, “After all it’s the inside that matters” we all realised immediately that this was the title we had been searching for.

The book launch at the DIY Futures Celebration October 2013
This is a book of thirteen accounts of life, whatever aspect of life that the contributor wanted to talk about.

We also ran, through Celf o Gwmpas, a series of ‘visual poetry’ workshops. Through these workshops, led by Sean Burn, an outsider artist with a growing international reputation, we achieved some moving work which, through layered and intriguing images reflects the experiences and feelings of the artist.

Jane promotes the book at the Powys Mental Health Alliance AGM 

How to get free copies of the book!

Thanks to the Big Lottery Fund, the books can be freely given away – but they do have a job to do – we want the books to help us challenge the stigma and discrimination that is so often faced by people who receive mental health services, willingly or not, and/or who experience emotional distress. Sometimes those negative and disturbing ideas about dangerousness, unpredictability, strangeness or other views are held internally about ourselves – none of us lives in a bubble isolated from media comments and sensationalised reporting. The stories show how life is, what has been experienced and endured, how circumstances and life affect us.

You or your group can receive free copies of the book – provided that you use it to help challenge the stigma experienced by people who use mental health services or who experience emotional distress. One way that you could do that is to invite people to meet together, look through the book and individually choose one story to read. And then discuss the stories and how you felt reading them. Then talk about what you might do as individuals or as a group to help challenge stigma.

Get in touch to say that you are interested and we will send you some books and some paperwork – nothing too demanding – we just need to know numbers of people taking part, some comments, quotes, reactions and any actions people or groups will be taking as a result. Actions can vary from talking to family and friends to thinking about the meaning and impact of using words like ‘nutter’ or ‘mental’, deciding to follow relevant blogs or twitter accounts, asking if where you work is a ‘mindful employer’, getting some leaflets for your workplace or club, church group etc. You might want to suggest getting a speaker to come and talk to your group or club, or seeing if, for example, your sporting association is tackling stigma in mental health. (Read this BBC blog about mental health and sport). There is plenty you can do and we can help with suggestions.

Contact us by emailing: or

Or by ringing 01597 822191 or 01686 628300 or...  leave a comment below. 

You can watch a video of the book launch here, and a video of Marion Aslan speaking at the same event here.


  1. Hi Jackie! I was reading up on a few of your posts just now and had a quick question. I was hoping that you could email me back when you have a moment. Thanks!

    - Cameron

  2. Hi Cameron

    Thanks for posting. I'd be happy to email you but don't have your address. Send me a quick message to and I'll get back to you.