How to Write Poetry About Mental Health

Many poets originally start writing to process experiences, thoughts, and emotions. This creative outlet helps us make sense of the confusing, frustrating, or painful aspects of life. It’s no surprise, then, that throughout poetry’s history, mental health remains a constant source of inspiration. 


Throughout Mental Health Awareness Month this May, take the opportunity to begin exploring this topic in your writing. To help you broach the subject, consider referencing this guide on how to write poetry about mental health. 


Develop self-care practices


Working on your mental health can provide constant inspiration for your poetry. Writing throughout your healing journey allows you to better understand your emotions, recognize your progress, and move forward. 


Attending therapy is a good place to start. Working with an empathetic therapist in a safe, supportive space helps you unpack trauma and discover ways to improve your mental health, such as developing self-care practices. Whether you journal, meditate, spend time in nature, or curl up on your couch with a relaxing book each night, find a practice that works for you. 


Exploring these self-care insights in your poetry can also help your readers, allowing them tos feel less alone in their struggles while reducing mental health stigma.


Write from an honest, self-reflective place


Reflecting on both your past and present mental health struggles can help you write poetry through a true, unfiltered perspective. If you journal, consider revisiting old entries. This can allow you to remember both painful and joyful moments, understand previous mindsets, and reflect on who you were then versus who you are now. 


Explore these topics in your poetry by writing first and foremost for yourself—ultimately, the process should feel cathartic. If you write from an earnest place and choose to share or publish your writing, your work will resonate with others.


Keep in mind: while writing about traumatic experiences, be mindful of your environment. Whether you’re writing outside or indoors, create a space in which you feel grounded and safe, enabling you to write freely and comfortably. 


Talk with others about mental health


From anxiety to depression, struggling with your mental health can often feel isolating, lonely, and hopeless. Having honest, open conversations with friends and family can make you feel supported and seen. To find community and connect with others in similar circumstances, consider joining a support group, either in-person or online. In a group setting, remember to  define your boundaries and respect others’. 


These discussions can help you develop a deeper sense of empathy, allowing for more resonant writing. 


Read poetry about mental health


Whether you gravitate toward modern prose or classic poetry, reading other writers’ mental health poems can improve your craft and spark creative inspiration. Particularly if you’re just starting out, studying how writers thoughtfully approach sensitive themes can be an effective way to develop your own voice and tell your story through poetry.