Advanced Nonfiction Writing: Writing about Mental Health and Addiction
There are many reasons mental illness and addiction are so pervasive, and so difficult to treat and discuss—leading to all-time high rates of suicide and overdose. But there is one baseline problem we can immediately address: learning how to do more effective, affecting, and evidence-based writing about behavioral health. In this advanced writing course, one of the first of its kind for undergraduates in the country, students will explore some of the most powerful American nonfiction writing on behavioral health, in publications and books, and will have some of the authors as guest lecturers. During the class, each student will read and do a presentation on one major piece of mental health or addiction writing, and then will create, workshop, and rewrite one major piece of nonfiction writing of their own. Projects can be reported memoir, narrative longform, investigative reporting, medical science writing, or some combination of these. Taught by Stephen Fried, lecturer, CPCW; adjunct professor, Columbia University; collaborator, Scattergood Behavior Health Ethics Program, Penn Med; award-winning health journalist and author of Rush (biography of founding father of American mental health care); coauthor, with Patrick Kennedy, of A Common Struggle: A Personal Journey Through the Past and Future of Mental Illness and Addiction; coauthor of 2019 National Council for Behavioral Health white paper, “Mass Violence in America: Causes, Impacts & Solutions,” cofounder of WHYY/Scattergood Behavioral Health Journalism Workshop and Columbia Conference on Mental Health Journalism & Media. Permission to enroll is required; please submit a short writing sample to the instructor at email@example.com.