BEYONCE FOR PRIME MINISTER OF ENGLAND… AND OTHER STORIES FROM THE FRONTLINE OF MENTAL HEALTH

This week we promoted positive mental health through music in 8 hospitals for 174 patients (Chase Farm Hospital, Chelmsford Priory Hospital, Cygnet Hospital Woking, Highgate Mental Health Centre, John Howard Centre, Lambeth Hospital, Park Royal Centre for Mental Health, St Pancras Hospital). Our mentors supported and encouraged young people and adults on acute, intensive care, medium secure and rehabilitation wards in songwriting, vocal coaching, beatmaking, production, recording and open mic sessions.

Here’s a sample of some of the reports from these sessions (initials changed for confidentiality)…

“JD was very excited to take part in the Key Changes session, he played harmonica and was bright and friendly throughout the session, clearly experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations”

“ST stayed for the whole session, she was elated and speaking fast and laughing a lot, the ward staff were trying to keep her calm from the time we arrived. Once we started the music she became engaged and focused, and sang for almost 2 hrs non-stop. This seemed to help her and she was much more settled by the end of the session.”

“AN seemed well today, he said he had done well in his english and maths exams, and had also recently been swimming for the first time ever and really enjoyed it.”

“MK said his mother had visited him earlier today and after she had gone, he felt depressed. His OT explained that he should not spit during the session. He took deep breaths to relax. His music was fluent and had more strength than last week. I gave him some clear film sleeves and asked him to slide his music sheets in them. He struggled and took a long time but eventually managed to slide them in. He did not spit at all in the session.”

“OP started a new ambient track recording vocals over the top which spoke of world peace and Beyonce becoming prime minister of England.”

“PL wanted to do a track about the recent earthquake in Italy. His songs always have biblical references and this was no exception.”

“RS finds it hard to concentrate for very long and seems quite disconnected. I mentioned the word rave, and this seemed to spark something off in her and she repeated the word many times excitedly.”

“NJ’s track is about paranoid schizophrenia and we recorded vocals to create an effect of many voices (i.e. hearing voices). NJ often stopped saying that he felt he hadn’t performed well and I reassured him. At the end of the session he said that “no one has ever done that with me before”.

“BI was dancing and singing with a microphone in a way I have not seen before. He became very aroused during the session so we brought the music down to help him settle.”

“AA appeared slowed and uninspired on the ward but when we started reviewing his tracks he began to smile and move to his music which inspired him to start a new track and record a freestyle performance.”

“MS is apprehensive about writing lyrics as this is his first time attempting it. He asked for the tempo to be slowed down as he is having difficulty keeping up with the standard 90 Bpm of Hip Hop. MS did not know what to write about so I suggested he focuses on what he would like in the future. MS has recently lost his ward leave so we discussed the reason for this and why he is in hospital. This helped him gain some insight into the situation.”

“Music is the one thing that brings a smile to RD’s face. I’ve noticed that RD does not speak to the other patients or staff and seems isolated on the ward. We talked about his options towards discharge and trying to get involved in more activities in the community.”

“18 patients attended today’s open mic performing a wide selection of songs. The patients sang and danced creating a fantastic positive energy and atmosphere. They are all very supportive and encouraging of each other. It was good to see some familiar faces who have been very unwell in the past, now coming confidently up to the mic. A thoroughly enjoyable session supported by warm and friendly hospital staff.”

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