MENTAL health service users will be encouraged to get creative in a groundbreaking new project.

The Dorchester-based Dorset Mental Health Forum has launched the Writing for Recovery project, which will help service users develop their creative writing skills.

The project was launched by Dr Francis C. Biley, an associate professor at Bournemouth University and Dorset County Hospital Governor and Hannah Walker, chair of the Dorset Mental Health Forum.

Last year Dr Biley and Mrs Walker collaborated with Dr Alec Grant from Brighton University to produce the book Our Encounters with Madness, a collection of true stories from mental health service users and their carers that aimed to create a greater understanding about mental health conditions.

They have been enabled to work together again for the Writing for Recovery scheme thanks to a grant of £8,950 from the Big Lottery Awards for All fund.

The project will be based at the Dorset Mental Health Forum’s office in Durngate Street in the county town and Kirsty Stanley, an occupational therapist from Bournemouth University with an interest in creative writing, will be on hand to run the sessions.

Dr Biley, who lives in Piddlehinton, said: “Creative writing has been shown to be very therapeutic.

“We are sure that this important initiative will be very enjoyable and it will also contribute to the health and wellbeing of course participants.”

The Writing for Recovery project will run in conjunction with a similar scheme in Brighton overseen by Dr Grant.

It will involved eight two-hour sessions run on a weekly basis starting in May.

The course is fully subsidised and costs nothing for participants, with materials as well as tea and coffee also provided.

Anyone interested in joining the group or finding out more about the project can contact Hannah Walker at the Dorset Mental Health Forum by emailing or by calling 07557 667066.

The Dorset Mental Health Forum is an independent charity that strives to improve the lives of people affected by mental illness by promoting wellbeing and recovery.

For more information about its work visit