I started my journalism for The Correspondent last year by proposing a new slogan: "how’s your mind?" Six days into the new year, I do want to ask you that question again, but this time not in the gung-ho manner of revolutionaries. I want to gently whisper that question in your ears. Because as my friend Nabeelah, The Correspondent’s conversation editor, told me on Friday: “Like, man, could we have two days of quiet in 2020?”
Let’s see what we’ve had so far: oh, just some not-so-absurd memes about the third world war, raging protests against a bitterly divisive citizenship law in India and masked goons terrorising students and teachers in one of the country’s premier universities, and apocalyptic pictures of Australia literally on fire. OK then.
The upside of the hectic events of the past week is that it has taught me very early on it’s going to be particularly difficult to stay away from distractions this year. Luckily, our members have made it easier for me to stay focused.
My year-ender piece was a blog where I shared the greatest gift I received from a reader in 2019. In that piece, I’d asked what are the important or overlooked themes that members want me to write about this year. I also ran a poll on Twitter. I got a lot of responses.
The top 11
In no particular order, here are some popular themes that emerged from the exercise:
- The relationship between income inequality, poverty and mental illness (one member wanted to read about the mental challenges of the wealthy too)
- The use of psychedelics to treat trauma
- Drug users cut out of mental health services
- How big pharma and insurance have shaped (or distorted) the idea of mental health
- “Everyday things that drive us bonkers”
- Mental health in the workplace
- The impact of misdiagnosis and overdiagnosis
- Mental health and caregivers
- The importance of boundary setting as a life skill
- Mental health and social justice
- Public health success stories from the global south
As you can see, that’s … a lot. These are all terribly interesting and urgent topics, and I’d like to cover as many of them as possible in the next few months. I have a strategy in mind to do this as competently as possible, and I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.
So, here goes. Starting this month, I am planning to assign a theme to each month. For instance, January is going to be dedicated to stories on mental health in the workplace. February could be social justice, and so on. Hopefully, this will allow me to break up each topic into smaller bits and engage with them with rigour. I can always revisit topics that deserve more articles.
Now, some topics might still get away because, well, one man can only write so much, and, if I were being completely honest, some of these topics intimidate me. For instance, psychedelics. I don’t know enough about the subject. I am excited to learn more and hope to write about the topic competently, but my plan while I do that is to try and find other writers from around the world who can do it better justice. This way, the footprint of the Sanity beat will expand, and you will get to read different writers.
How does that sound? Let me know. Also:
- Feel free to add to the list of topics that I should consider
- Help me find the best people, books, articles, videos, and podcasts pertaining to these topics
- If you know brilliant writers that you’d like us to consider, please connect me to them. If you are that writer, pitch now!
Good. Now chin up. The year can only get better ... right?