08 November 2010

Call for Personal Essays: It's All in Her Head

Post date: 08 November 2010
Deadline: 1 March 2011

Call for Submissions

It’s All in Her Head will be a dynamic collection of finely crafted, stigma-busting stories by a diverse group of women who have struggled with mental challenges, from a tendency toward pessimism to full-blown schizophrenia.

I am seeking first-person, literary non-fiction essays from established writers and talented emerging voices detailing your experience with a mental health issue, and how you’ve learned to make peace with it. Although your essay may (and should) reveal the truth about what it is/was like to live with your particular challenge, I’m looking for contributions that have a positive and/or hopeful tone (humor is more than welcome), with concrete examples of how you’ve managed to be productive, successful, satisfied, and yes, happy–or at least content. It’s All in Her Head will both acknowledge the severity of treated and untreated mental concerns and also share women’s strategies for taking care of themselves and restoring themselves, given the tools at their disposal, from pharmaceuticals to meditation, and everything in between…the winning cocktail that gives them some measure of mastery over their lives.

The statistics are alarming: one in four American adults suffers from a diagnosable mental illness such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, phobia, eating disorders, or addiction. Half of all Americans struggle with some form of mental illness at some time in their lives. Many millions more face the challenges of less-clinical, still-problematic conditions, such as worry, pessimism, and self-criticism. Doubly alarming is the underreported fact that most of these people are women.

On an epidemiological level, women are 2-3 times more likely to suffer depression and anxiety than men; women are 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than men; women constitute 90% of people with eating disorders. Furthermore, studies show that women of color are over-represented in mental health statistics, and frequently receive sub-standard care.

Leaving aside the question of whether and/or how gender disparities in mental health are attributable to biological differences in the brains of women and men, certainly cultural factors are partly to blame. Women’s emotions and ideas are frequently invalidated; our status in the workplace is undervalued; we are socialized against prioritizing ourselves and our health; and we are expected to remain cheerful despite all these things. Culturally, we are encouraged to distance ourselves from, distrust, and discount our emotions and our thoughts, which can exacerbate mood disorders and other psychological difficulties.

Still, an enormous number of women have found ways to cope with their challenges and lead productive, creative, intellectually and emotionally satisfying lives. They’ve ferreted out helpful treatments, medications, practices, habits, and other mechanisms that enable them to make peace with their troubled minds.

How have they done it? How have you done it? It’s All in Her Head strives to provide readers with a glimpse into the successful strategies exercised by women whose persistent mental difficulties were met head on with something else in her head: resiliency, resourcefulness, intelligence, determination, and strength. Essays will also include the powerful part played by supportive partners, health care providers, peers, family and friends.

Please consider adding your influential voice to this collection. There are far too many women who are in need of help. The involvement of established writers will catapult this project into a realm that will have the most reach and influence, to those who need its wisdom most.


Essays should include a title, and run approximately 2000-4000 words.

Please submit essays as Microsoft Word documents, iWork Pages files, or PDFs.

Deadline: March 1, 2011; early submissions and queries strongly encouraged.

Compensation: Yes–commensurate with publishing history.

Please send questions and submissions to: itsallinherhead@gmail.com.

More information here.
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