"Finally, to hinder the description of illness in literature, there is the poverty of the language. English, which can express the thoughts of Hamlet and the tragedy of Lear, has no words for the shiver and the headache. It has all grown one way. The merest schoolgirl, when she falls in love, has Shakespeare or Keats to speak her mind for her; but let a sufferer try to describe a pain in his head to a doctor and language at once runs dry. There is nothing ready made for him. He is forced to coin words himself, and, taking his pain in one hand, and a lump of pure sound in the other (as perhaps the people of Babel did in the beginning), so to crush them together that a brand new word in the end drops out. Probably it will be something laughable."

                                         -from On Being Ill by Virginia Woolf

​The editors of West Trade Review seek creative nonfiction that engages with the ideas of mental health and mental well-being. Specifically, we'd like to read personal stories that are raw, honest, and vulnerable in their explorations of mental health or mental well-being and their intersection with inequality, access to healthcare, the need for accessible, quality mental health care, and/or the need for open conversations about mental health and practices that contribute to mental well-being.

Writers are encouraged to speak their truth, to share their challenges, losses, and triumphs. Simply creatively explore these ideas and the potential themes below to give voice to a truth that is often difficult to verbalize, as Woolf so eloquently expresses.

We are excited to read your work and share your stories with others. 

Potential themes are (but not limited to):

  • ​the challenges of living with a mentally ill adult children
  • understanding and navigating neurodivergencies
  • navigating and healing from traumatic experiences
  • addiction
  • chronic disease
  • anxiety or depression
  • the intersection of homelessness and mental illness
  • grief and loss
  • the importance of self-care for mental well-being


- Submit one cnf piece of up to 6,000 words. Please submit a double-spaced Microsoft Word file.

​ -Include a clear title of the work.

  -Include a short 3rd person biography of no more than 150 words. Work submitted without a biography will not be considered.

  -If your work is a simultaneous submission, please let us know immediately if it is published elsewhere. 

  -Writers may not submit more than once per reading period

Entries should be submitted to the appropriate genre category at the following link:


Entries that do no meet guidelines or eligibility requirements will not be considered.

Selected work will be included in an anthology published by Iron Oak Editions. Publication will include an honorarium.  A portion of all book sales will be donated to NAMI.  

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Submissions Open January 15 - March 15, 2024


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