Canongate have teamed up with SMHAFF, The Mental Health Foundation, See Me and Waterstones Argyle Street to launch Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig, a brilliant and unique memoir from the author of The Humans. Tickets will include a £1 donation to the writing competition for the Festival.

On Tuesday 10th March, Matt Haig will be joined by Richard Holloway, Jenny Lindsay, Withered Hand and Linda Irvine to celebrate Reasons to Stay Alive with readings, poems and music followed by a live debate on the divide between physical and mental health. 

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. Reasons to Stay Alive is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

“I want life. I want to read it and write it and feel it and live it. I want, for as much of the time as possible in this blink-of-an-eye existence we have, to feel all that can be felt.”

With endorsements from Joanna Lumley, Michael Palin, Jo Brand Joanne Harris, Ian Rankin, Nathan Filer and many more, Reasons to Stay Alive is a moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive. It is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

Lee Knifton, Head of the Mental Health Foundation says
‘Reasons to Stay Alive is a brave, honest and moving account of living with depression, and has the potential to open up many new conversations and help reduce stigma. This event is a great starting point and we are very pleased to be working with Canongate to put it together.’

Judith Robertson, Programme Director of See Me says
‘See Me is privileged to work with Matt Haig over the launch of his book Reasons to Stay Alive.  Matt’s story can give real hope to the hundreds of men in Scotland who struggle every day to seek help for their mental health and this book will take the message about the need to end mental health stigma to a new and vital audience.’

Event details:

Tuesday 10th March, 6.30pm

Head on Fire: closing the divide between physical and mental health

At St George’s Tron Church of Scotland 163 Buchanan St, Glasgow G1 2JX

Chair: Richard Holloway

Speakers: Matt Haig, Jenny Lindsay & Linda Irvine

Music: Withered Hand

Tickets: £6 (£1 will be donated to The Mental Health Foundation)

Waterstones Argyle Street

Tel: 0141 248 4814


Matt Haig is the author of five novels, including the bestselling The Last Family in England, which has been optioned by Brad Pitt’s production company, The Radleys, which was selected for Channel 4’s TV Book Club and was voted the winner of the series in 2011 and The Humans, a World Book Night 2014 title. His works have been translated into over twenty languages, and he has also written award-winning books for children.

Jenny Lindsay is a poet, performer, promoter and educator living and working in Edinburgh. Her pamphlet collection Ire & Salt, due to be published in April 2015 by Stewed Rhubarb Press explores many themes, including mental health, Scottish identity, culture and politics. She has co-tutored workshops on power, poetry and literacy for Outlook, Edinburgh’s learning network for mental health service users and is one half of literary cabaret duo Rally & Broad.

Withered Hand is the nom de plume of Edinburgh-based singer-songwriter Dan Willson, who started writing songs almost ten years ago during a period of reflection following the birth of his first child and the death of a close friend. This year saw the release of his strident second album ‘New Gods’ which propelled Withered Hand into the charts, featuring appearances by friends, luminaries and supporters from the Scottish music scene, from Belle & Sebastian to Frightened Rabbit to The Vaselines and beyond.

Richard Holloway is a Scottish writer and broadcaster. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Godless Morality, Doubts & Loves, and Leaving Alexandria: A Memoir of Faith and Doubt. He was Bishop of Edinburgh and Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church till he stood down in 2000.  He was Gresham Professor of Divinity in the City of London 1997-2001.

Linda Irvine is the Strategic Programme Manager for Mental Health and Wellbeing at NHS Lothian. In 2007, Linda worked with Professor Kirsty Forsyth to establish an academic/practice partnership called the ‘Transformation Station’ which has driven significant change programs to improve outcomes for people with mental health problems. She has led the NHS arts and mental health programme for a number of years in Lothian.


‘Full of wisdoms and warmth’ 

‘Maybe the most important book I’ve read this year’ 

‘Essential to our collective well-being’ 

‘Brilliant and salutary . . . should be on prescription’ 

‘Touching, funny, thought-provoking, with a huge heart’ 

‘Thoughtful, honest and incredibly insightful’ 

‘Fascinating and beautifully written’ 

‘Marvelous . . . For everyone who has ever felt the snap of the black dog’s teeth, this book is wise, funny, affirming and redemptive. Sometimes depression can be like falling into a wordless pit. Matt Haig finds the words. And he says them for all of us’ 

‘For anyone who has faced the black dog, or felt despair, this marvellous book is a real comfort, dealing sympathetically with depression, written with candour and from first-hand experience. I think it is a small masterpiece. It might even save lives.’ 

‘Matt Haig brings a difficult and sensitive subject out of the darkness and into the light. This direct, unflinching but ultimately positive account of his own experience will surely be a great help to lots of people.’