Joanna Cannon – another artist in our psychiatric midst

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By Geoff Brennan, Executive Director, Star Wards


I know we are always saying how talented, creative and downright superb ward staff can be – but the we are constantly being proven right! So, if it’s alright with you, we’ll continue.

Recently the amazing Joanna Cannon joined Star Wards on our new individual joining form. Here is a brilliant woman who becomes a doctor, then a psychiatrist and then ups and writes a brilliant, best-selling book – “The Trouble with Goats and Sheep.” While we are delighted such a lovely person decided to become on of us, rest assured we are not expecting every new  member to have such a creative CV!

As to Joanna, as the Independent newspaper review of the book shows, her time on the wards has helped her creative talent.

“An insightful, honest book, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is the first novel from Joanna Cannon, a doctor whose psychiatric specialities are put to good use here. Each character has fascinating quirks and foibles, and their battles with guilt, distrust and horrifying past traumas are manifested masterfully.”

So, like the wonderful nurse turned writer, Nathan Filer, we have another artist coming from our wards. How many of the people you work with or help are creative bubbles waiting to rise, how many have talents that could be nurtured and cherished? I bet there are lots!

We recently had the chance to chat to Joanna on twitter and she very kindly gave us permission to link to a lovely blog about psychiatry she had written – click here to read it. What she says is so true and echo’s much of what Star Wards is about – recognising and appreciating the core goodness that can be found on wards. It also reflects something our founder, Marion Janner used to emphasise about her own care – wards save lives.

Joanna has a new book hitting the shelves in January. Lovely

We welcome Joanna to Star Wards as we welcome all who find us. We also thank her for her wonderful, considerate and compassionate words and proving, yet again, that there are amazing people in our mental health wards.

(If you would like to know even more about Joanna, why not have a look at her interview with our good friend, the exceptional journalist Helene Mulholland. The interview was published in the Guardian Newspaper and while you’re at it – check out the very cool “Arts for Health” charity in South Staffordshire that Joanna also supports.



(Do you have and Artist in your midst? They don’t need to be best-selling authors or award winners, but we would dearly love to hear and celebrate the talent that is in our midst. So tell us all about them and why your think they are brilliant and we will tell the world!)

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You might be wondering – what difference does Star Wards actually make to mental health wards? It’s a question we continuously ask ourselves, to make sure that we are having a positive impact. Well, we have over 800 wards signed up to receive our resources and, in the past, we have had Star Wards independently evaluated. A micro-summary of what our users have said is that wards who tried Star Wards ideas had:

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