Latest News for June 2015
CCC are pleased to announce their recent collaboration with John Clare Cottage in Helpston (just north of Peterborough) in the promotion of mental health awareness in the local area. Both charities already carry out important work in the local community to help sufferers and those around them to understand their condition and how to manage it, and to reduce the stigma around conditions such as depression, alcohol abuse and delusion. Over the coming months, CCC and John Clare Cottage will work together to provide additional information to the local community via their websites, social media and events, in order to reach more people in need of support.
John Clare himself suffered from various mental health conditions, earning him the nickname, "The Mad Poet", as well as the kinder title of "The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet", being perhaps the only poet of such prominence to be descended from a humble and near illiterate farmer. His work is therefore of great importance, as it charts both accurately and vividly the changes imposed on the countryside at the time. He lived from 1793 to 1864, witnessing the Agricultural Revolution and documented the destruction of the countryside in which he had grown up, noting both the social impact on the farm labourers and their families and the devastating effects on wildlife, in his first groundbreaking publication - Poems of Rural Life and Scenery.
As some of his later efforts were less well received, Clare struggled with depression, feeling torn between the literary life in London and the pressure to provide for his wife and seven children. He searched for a solution in alcohol, he suffered delusions and his behaviour became increasingly erratic, culminating in his referrral to a private assylum in 1837. He remained in medical institutions for most of the remainder of his life, where he continued to write, and eventually died at the age of 70.
Clare's story is important, not only as a record of the mental health treatments of the time, but also as a triumph of what can be achieved by someone suffering with these conditions. In the "MIND" room at John Clare Cottage today, there is a variety of information about the treatments of the time compared with today's understanding, information about modern celebrities who are battling with various psychological conditions (such as Stephen Fry, Robin Williams and Ruby Wax) as well as general information to aid acceptance of those with poor mental health. One in four people currently have diagnosed conditions, so it is important that all of us have a greater understanding of what this means and how we can help to make their lives easier.
To find out more...
about John Clare Cottage and the work of the charity, see www.clarecottage.org
about the John Clare Society Festival, see www.johnclaresociety.blogspot.co.uk/p/blog-page.html