Depression and creative writing students

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


There's an assignment due, and in the weeks before and after the due date I get visits and calls and emails from students bearing notes written by their counsellors and psychiatrists; from the Disabilities Office about students frozen by anxiety or depression; from psychologists and social workers on behalf of their clients. Some students email me drafts of work from the psychiatric hospitals to which they retreat every few weeks; others speak to me only in the presence of another professional. Last semester a disturbingly large number of the first year writing students presented with documented depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, Asperger syndrome, schizophrenia...and this in a university where only four per cent of students have registered with any form of disability at all. On bad days, it seems as though almost every student in my program is riddled with sorrow, anxiety, and the incapacity to be at home in the world. The frequent documentation of mental or emotional ill-health happens routinely in my workplace, and possibly in yours too. Our students seem increasingly wretched, and are increasingly armed with notes from their therapist or their doctor. We swap stories of suicide threats and suicide attempts, and too many of us know someone who's lost a student, or has found a student's body in the studio or carpark. What is happening in the world that causes engaging, promising, talented young people to find life so insupportable that they can't continue without external support? And is it just writing students, or is it students generally, or is it a feature of society as a whole?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages1
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2003


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