Helen Whately MP (Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Mental Health)
Luciana Berger MP
James Morris MP
Marjore Wallace - SANE
Stephen Clift - Sidney de Haan Arts & Health Centre
Date - 30th October 2017
Venue - The Jubilee Room, Houses Of Parliament, London, UK
MPs gathered alongside mental health experts and supporters in the Houses of Parliament last week to talk (and sing) in support of SING4SANE. The project has been brought to life by singer-songwriter Melissa James
, whose “pop-up” performances bond together an inclusive choir in the most unlikely places. In February 2017 she brought together a thirty strong choir at Caffe Nero in Heathrow Airport. It was a dramatic concert that illustrated that mental health issues can strike at the heart of any community. There are pinch points in all of lives and the stresses that revolve around travel and work can sometimes be masked by the busyness of our lives. No where can life be more stressful (nor fast paced) than the Houses of Parliament. Mental Health has been brought to the fore by our parliamentarians in recent months and the event was opened by talks from Helen Whately MP and Luciana Berger MP.
|Helen Whately MP|
"Mental illness should not be seen as an inevitable part of life. The current state of mental health treatment would simply never be accepted for a physical condition. I've pledged to take on the unacceptable lack of progress in tackling young people’s mental health. I joined MPs from all parties in swearing to tackle mental illness."
Helen Whately MP
|Luciana Berger MP|
"In my role as President of the Labour Campaign for Mental Health I have visited many services and organisations across the country. There is clearly a huge appetite out there, to work together to improve our mental health services."
Luciana Berger MP
|Eugenie Arrowsmith |
Melissa James and Eugenie Arrowsmith spoke to the audience about the pressures they have felt being musicians and vocalists. Arrowsmith was signed to Virgin 10
as a teen, and after making an album that cost more than £500,000, she watched as her work was ultimately locked away in a vault at EMI. Through no fault of her own the work she had put her life and soul into had been taken out her hands. Although the struggle of those years took it toll on Eugenie it didn't quell her desire and she is about to release music again after 20 years, this time on her own label.
“The pressures of the music industry, combined with the desire to be a working artist, are often at odds with each other. I constantly question whether agreeing to particular performances, or keeping-up with demands of social media posts, are really necessary if I am not fully stable and am not feeling mentally well. It does mean making sacrifices, which in turn can lead to feelings of guilt and uncertainty about your abilities as an artist and performer. The difficulty in feeling unable to speak about it doesn’t help. Singing with others who understand does somehow help to silently ease the pressure.”
|Jonathon Holder |
The Parliamentary Big Sing was a great success bringing together politicians from opposing parties to sing as one. Jonathon Holder on guitar accompanied choirs from Goresbrook School (Dagenham) and the George Green School (Isle of Dogs). Several talented singers bolstered the ranks, including composer Ross Lorriane and ex-Birmingham Cathedral chorister Hilgrove Kendrick. They demonstrated that there is great power being part of a collective. With everyone in the Jubilee Room braced shoulder to shoulder they sang for each other, and for the wellbeing of everyone who still suffers far beyond the confines of Westminster. You are not alone they sang, it is time to Live Again.
“The coming together was spine-tingling, I was overwhelmed to see people singing to raise awareness of such an important issue, because mental health matters to them.” Melissa James
During the summer of 2017 members of the public joined Melissa James in a Big Sing at London’s celebrated RAK Studios. The recorded single, Live Again, sees all sale proceeds go to the mental health charity SANE. Live Again is planned for re-release in early November. It will be available to download via i-Tunes, Google Play and Amazon and other online music retailers.
Assistant to Helen Whately MP
“I wrote ‘Live Again’ a couple of years ago about someone close to me who was going through a difficult time,” Melissa explains. “For me, this song was really about showing my vulnerabilities, and people often come to me saying because of that, they get it. For some people, it makes them cry.
“It’s about isolation, and so it made sense to use it as a tool to create feelings of togetherness by getting people to sing together.”
|James Morris MP|
Marjorie Wallace CBE (SANE), James Morris MP, Eugenie Arrowsmith and Sephen Clift (Sidney de Haan Arts & Health Centre) joined Melissa James in a panel discussion. The packed audience listened with emboldened hearts but were also chastened by the realities that face Mental Health services throughout the UK. Nothing can dispute that we need to come together, to listen to each other and to celebrate with voices that have found their life once again.
“It’s fantastic that Melissa has created this event to bring the SING4SANE initiative to this important audience. Singing can set the mind and spirit free, and help people who experience mental health problems.”
Marjorie Wallace CBE, founder and chief executive of SANE
|Margaret Edwards SANE|
was established in 1986 to improve the quality of life for people affected by mental illness, following the overwhelming public response to a series of articles published in The Times entitled The Forgotten Illness. Written by the charity’s founder and chief executive, Marjorie Wallace, the articles exposed the neglect of people suffering from mental illness and the poverty of services and information for individuals and families.
|Jonathan Robinson SANE|
SANE's vision has remained consistent throughout its history: to raise public awareness, excite research, and bring more effective professional treatment and compassionate care to everyone affected by mental illness.
is Professor of Health Education in the Faculty of Health and Social Care, Canterbury Christ Church University, and Research Director of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health. He has worked in the field of health promotion and public health for over twenty-five years, and has made contributions to research, practice and training on HIV/AIDS prevention, sex education, international travel and health and the health promoting school. His current interests relate to arts and heath and particularly the potential value of group singing for health and wellbeing. He is one of the founding editors of Arts & Health: An international journal for research, policy and practice
and Honorary President of the Singing Hospitals International Network.