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WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY 2016

World Mental Health Day 2016: More Than Music. To celebrate this year’s World Mental Health Day we threw a festival for the community to promote wellbeing through music, art, sport, food and, er, bingo. Mental health is a challenging and complex subject – for those experiencing problems, their friends and families, professionals and volunteers working in treatment, care and support, and society as a whole where the socio-economic effects are huge and the demand for services ever growing. But this year we wanted to celebrate some of the positive aspects of mental health that are often overlooked – like the shared understanding between people with lived experience, the unique creativity that can arise through mental illness, and the thriving inspiring supportive community of service users, carers, service providers and local neighbourhood. Each year we provide engagement and recovery services in hospitals and the community for over 3,000 people affected by mental health problems. We’re known for our music, and rightly so – last year our specially trained musicians and producers delivered over 1,350 writing and recording sessions on the wards and 1,675 sessions at our professionally equipped Central London studios, and our artists performed at over 100 concerts. But we’re much more than music. Our award-winning programme also addresses the shocking physical health inequalities amongst people experiencing mental health problems (e.g. someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia will die 20 years younger than the average person). So, in the past year we’ve provided 980 hours of football, art, gardening, healthy eating, social media, table tennis, massage, snooker, legal, financial and business advice, plus volunteering, work experience and employment opportunities, to promote a whole-person approach to recovery for our service users. Beautifully reflected in our #WMHD16 festival’s thrilling football tournament (won by Chase Farm Hospital), hotly-contested inter-generational musical bingo session, chillout gardening pesto and herbal teabags, make-your-own Hip Hop beatmaking pop up studio, Happy Haiku, steel band, healthy-eating cookery school (Mexican chicken tacos with pineapple salsa, anyone?) and not-so-healthy chocolate fountain, live poetry (the irrepressible Paul Lyalls), sketch duel, table tennis, DIY Van Gogh studio (thanks to the artist John Close), Latin dance class, social media workshops and a showcase of fantastic talent at the Open Mic concert. All neatly concluded with a world exclusive limbo-dance from the worshipful Mayor of Islington. Takk Fyrir to Sissa Olafsdottir for the beautiful photos.

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