Looking for support with your mental health? Here are some places that can help
Comedian Sarah Millican’s #JoinIn campaign which takes place on Christmas Day over on Twitter, which is there for anyone feeling alone.
Music on my headphones helps me cope at work big time. Why? Well, in the office you can often only hear doom ‘n’ gloom which sends my mind off in a spin and scenarios overload. I am not a pessimistic person, just that my mind loves to work on worst case scenarios!
Office environments can be both good and bad from an anxiety point of view. Good in that you have fellow colleagues around to chat too and actually see in person, as opposed to on teams/zoom. Bad is the scaremongering, and often baseless ‘facts’, they chat about. That’s fine but it does affect others who may not be saying anything and instead worrying away on the inside.
Sometimes engage the brain before speaking… Boris take note 😉
Tune of the Day – Astral Drive is songwriter and producer Phil Thornalley’s vision of a long lost album from the 1970s that only existed in his own mind. It is a wonderfully uplifting listen…
Like many out there in the real world (as opposed to the fantasy world of social media), the ongoing pandemic has really been affecting peoples well-being and metal health. Certainly for me the lockdowns, which started in March 2020, sent me into full on panic/anxiety mode and I am now on medication to help me, which it does. But you also need to have some coping strategies and people support (which I am very lucky to have).
The coping strategies often form part of Cognitive Behavioural/ Therapy (CBT) which is not as scary as it sounds! I attended a six week course back in 2019 via MIND and it proved very useful. However, I have been a bit lax on doing worry time and proper relaxation techniques. One strategy which my wife said to try was journaling and here I am 🙂 Well, blogging as like many I hardly use a pen and paper nowadays.
I am aiming to jot down my thoughts & feelings each day if possible, or at least a few times per week. The reason for making this public is not because I am a show off (far from it!!!) but in the hope it may help somebody else and to hear other people’s experiences. Please do feel free to comment.
Each post will also feature my Tune of the Day as music is very important to me and has been a constant companion from early on in my life.
Music therapist, Fraser Simpson, won the award on behalf of Nordoff Robbins for his work with our partners, Mountbatten Hospice. Mountbatten delivers hospice and end of life services across Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, supporting up to 3,000 people on any one day within their own homes, as well as in the hospices buildings.
Fraser’s online work at Mountbatten Hospice during the pandemic, and in particular a song-writing/recording project with Mountbatten Young Adults group and the combined Community Choirs of Mountbatten Isle of Wight and Mountbatten Hampshire, was one of 17 shortlisted projects to be nominated for this prestigious award.
“Thank you for this award, which I am overwhelmed to receive on behalf of Nordoff Robbins, for delivering a music therapy service at Mountbatten Hospices Isle of Wight and Southampton throughout the pandemic.
For many months, Mountbatten’s very active psycho-social programme (open to the entire local community) and day, self-help and rehabilitation services had to be delivered very differently – with many of these services being delivered virtually though online services and programmes. The music therapy service moved online, offering relief from the social isolation experienced by so many. Music did its magical work of connecting, uplifting, enlivening and enabling, despite the limitations of online working.”
You can read the full article here
Author, scriptwriter, podcaster & more…Mark Stay gives us the lowdown on his year and plans for 2022, plus some music, film & book recommendations…
The highs & lows of 2021…
The highs… Going back to the movies has been great (even if we’re often the only people in the cinema wearing masks). We kicked it off by seeing the Lord of the Rings trilogy on the big screen, which our kids had never experienced before. Just magical.
Also managed to write more this year than any other. A couple of books, a few short stories, and a bunch of screenplays, and there’s also a TV thing happening that I can’t talk about. It’s been a productive year. I prefer to keep my head down and write rather than wail on social media these days. That’s where the lows are.
Read any good books lately…
The audiobook of Rutger Bregman’s Humankind kept me sane over the summer. Humanity is not as bad as we make ourselves out to be. I can also recommend the audiobook of Seth Rogen’s Yearbook, which is hilarious, though your mileage may vary depending on your tolerance for stoner stories. I’m in the middle of a proof copy of Caimh McDonnell’s This Charming Man, the second in his Stranger Times series, which is joyful page-turning, gripping fun. Highly recommended.
For research, I’m listening to Get Tusked, which is about Fleetwood Mac making the album Tusk after Rumours became the biggest album in the world. Things get a wee bit strained as you can imagine. For film nerds, I loved My Life as a Mankiewicz, by the late, great screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz. One of the most gleefully gossipy books about movies you’ll ever read.
Films & TV series you’d recommend a watch over the Christmas & New Year break…
I know the Ted Lasso thing is in danger of being overblown, but it really is like a warm hug. I got into it during the second lockdown and it will help restore your faith in humanity. You can balance that with It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia which we’re loving, though we can only watch one episode at a time as they’re such despicable people.
Only Murders in the Building is the best thing Steve Martin has done since Bowfinger, and as a whodunnit it really keeps you on the hook. I’m really looking forward to Peter Jackson’s Beatles three-part documentary Get Back. I suspect I’m going to be watching that on hard repeat.
In our house, Christmas officially starts when we all gather to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, and there’s a rumour that Disney might finally be releasing the full version with the song When Love Is Found.
Heard any good music recently…
Ocean to Ocean by Tori Amos is my favourite album of hers since Scarlett’s Walk. Some of the best stuff she’s ever done. Wet Leg are a cracking duo from the Isle of Wight. They’ve only released two songs — Chaise Longue and Wet Dream — and they’re both belters. I stumbled across the video for Rumors by Lizzo and Cardi B on Apple TV and it’s like an R-rated version of Disney’s Hercules. It has to be seen to be believed and the song is an instant classic. And as a longtime Floyd fan I was delighted to get the CD of the 2019 remix of A Momentary Lapse of Reason (MP3s just aren’t the same). To hear Nick and Rick on the album as they should always have been is a real treat.
What have you got planned for next year and beyond…
Busy year in 2022. My new film Unwelcome comes out on St Patrick’s Day in the UK and the USA. And the third of the Witches of Woodville books — The Ghost of Ivy Barn — is out in May. Hoping to do more festivals and book events and actually meet people!
Anything else to add…
You can discover more about The Witches of Woodville books and even get some free short stories here: https://witchesofwoodville.com
Taking place at 7pm on Tuesday 14th Dec 2021 at St Luke’s Church, Chelsea, the welcome return of the Nordoff Robbins Carol Service showcases a star-studded line up including Sir Rod Stewart – one of the most important and best-selling artists of all time, the magnetic Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May and chart-topping saxophonist and presenter Jess Gillam. With Christmas carols sung by some of the music industry’s most celebrated artists, from music giants to and coming young talent, the evening will also feature a host of celebrities giving festive readings.* Tickets are available from carols.nordoff-robbins.org.uk, priced £50.
Following the music therapy charity’s first virtual Christmas event in 2020, Nordoff Robbins is also offering music lovers who can’t attend the church the opportunity to come together to experience the Christmas magic by watching ‘The Stars Come Out To Sing At Christmas 2021’, hosted by the iconic Nile Rodgers. The free-to-view streamed concert will feature carols and readings from St Luke’s Church along with exclusive additional performances from stars around the world, which fans can access at 7pm GMT on Sunday 19th December via carols.nordoff-robbins.org.uk. Donations are encouraged throughout this very special festive evening to enable Nordoff Robbins’ dedicated music therapists to support those who need it most to experience the joy and power of music – helping communication and reducing isolation.
Nordoff Robbins Music Therapy is delighted to have Hipgnosis Songs Fund Limited as a funding partner for the second year.
The online concert will be supported by London Stock Exchange through streaming on its Issuer Services Spark (https://www.lsegissuerservices.com/spark). Spark is a digital platform that enables London Stock Exchange clients and partners to distribute a range of digital and thought leadership content.
| Free online musical learning with FutureLearn |
There are two courses available, one focusing on learning more about music therapy and Nordoff Robbins, the other using music in a care setting. Amongst many other benefits, these free online courses could help you learn musical skills, understand the benefits of music and help the people you work with through using music. Find out more about the online courses
The Specsavers Scottish Music Awards returns in November
The Specsavers Scottish Music Awards returns on Saturday 13 November with performances from The Fratellis, Nathan Evans and Nina Nesbitt, live from Glasgow’s famous Barrowland.
And even if you’re not in Scotland, you can see some of Scotland’s finest musical talent and watch it live right from your home. Find out how you can watch the SMAs
Brand new epsisodes of our podcast out now
Presented by DJ Chris Hawkins and music therapist, Louise Gregg, Three Track Therapy is all about the power of music.
With stars such as Frank Turner, Colette Cooper and more, each episode sees a different musician open up about the importance of music and the three tracks that have had the biggest influence on their life. Listen to the latest episode today Open evening for our Master’s this Thursday (30 September)
If you’ve ever thought about a career in music therapy, or know someone who is interested, our open evenings are a great way to find out more and ask questions about the Master of Music Therapy programme, or the Sony Music Bursary. Sign up to the online open evening
On Stage at Home Live! is back for three online sessions
On Stage at Home Live! is back for three more online musical sessions on Monday 11 October, Monday 18 October and Monday 25 October. And not only will music therapist, Emily, Tiny and Small Clanger be involved, but we have a very special guest coming along too. So if you have children under 5, or know someone that does, why not come along, sing, clap and make some music with us. Find out more and sign up today
Musical resources for your home
We want to add musical value to your life, which is why we’ve created a suite of musical resources for you, your family or friends which are inclusive and accessible to all.
Learn about our musical resources As a charity we receive no government funding, so we rely on the generosity and support of people like you, our supporters. Here are a few ways you can help Nordoff Robbins and the people we help. Fund music for others – you can make a one-off donation or become a regular giver to Nordoff Robbins here. Share your music therapy stories – We would love to hear your stories of how music therapy has helped you or a somebody you know.
You can share your story here. Spread the word – We would love you to share our news with your friends and family and encourage them to sign up to our newsletter. We hope you stay safe and are looking after yourself.
The Nordoff Robbins team
According to a new survey published this week by UK Music and taken by pollsters Public First, music has played an integral role in reducing the stresses of the majority of UK citizens over lockdown.
It was the largest poll performed since the music industry’s initial closure back in March 2020, and was orchestrated to find out what role music played in the lives of the British public during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The key findings of the wide-ranging poll revealed:
The Importance of Live Music & Venues To The Nation:
From the Mental Health Foundation (UK) website –
During long months of the pandemic, millions of us turned to nature. Our research on the mental health impacts of the pandemic showed going for walks outside was one of our top coping strategies and 45% of us reported being in green spaces had been vital for our mental health. Websites which showed footage from webcams of wildlife saw hits increase by over 2000%. Wider studies also found that during lockdowns, people not only spent more time in nature but were noticing it more.
It was as if we were re-discovering at our most fragile point our fundamental human need to connect with nature.
Nature is so central to our psychological and emotional health, that it’s almost impossible to realise good mental health for all without a greater connection to the natural world. For most of human history, we lived as part of nature. It is only in the last five generations that so many of us have lived and worked in a context that is largely separated from nature. And it is only since a 1960s study in the US found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster, that science has started to unpack the extraordinary health benefits.
During Mental Health Awareness Week 2021, we will pull together the evidence that demonstrates the powerful benefits of nature for our mental health. We will look at nature’s unique ability to not only bring consolation in times of stress, but also increase our creativity, empathy and a sense of wonder. It turns out that it is not just being in nature but how we open ourselves up and interact with nature that counts. We will show that even small contacts with nature can reduce feelings of social isolation and be effective in protecting our mental health, and preventing distress.
Nature is our great untapped resource for a mentally healthy future.
Despite this, many of us are not accessing or benefitting from nature. Teenagers in particular appear to be less connected with nature and around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. We want to challenge the disparities in who is and who isn’t able to experience nature. Nature is not a luxury. It is a resource that must be available for everyone to enjoy – as basic as having access to clean water or a safe roof over our heads. Local and national governments need to consider their role in making this a reality for everyone, and we will be talking about how they can do so during the week.
We have two clear aims. Firstly, to inspire more people to connect with nature in new ways, noticing the impact that this connection can have for their mental health. Secondly, to convince decision makers at all levels that access to and quality of nature is a mental health and social justice issue as well as an environmental one.
2021 is going be a huge year for nature: a new Environment Bill will go through the UK Parliament which will shape the natural world for generations to come; the UK will host the G7 nations where creating a greener future will be a key priority and a historic international UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will be hosted in Glasgow in November.
There could not be a more important time to understand the links between nature and mental health.
Stories are the best tools we have to influence change. Unless we can demonstrate nature’s role in bringing solace and joy to our lives, it will remain under-valued and under-utilised.
We want to hear your stories of how nature has supported your mental health. This might be as a simple as tending to a house plant, listening to the birds, touching the bark of trees, smelling flowers or writing a poem about our favourite nature spot.
Whatever it is for you, we invite you to #ConnectWithNature and share what this means for you.
During Mental Health Awareness Week, we are asking you to do three things:
For more information about this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week visit mentalhealth.org.uk/mhaw or join the conversation on social media using #ConnectWithNature and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek
I have given much thought about whether to post publically about my anxiety, not something a fiftysomething is overly keen to chat about! This graphic below is one of the best examples of showing what anxiety looks and feels like. You don’t necessarily have all of these feelings and emotions, as everyone gets anxious at times. The difference for me and many others is that we can’t stop thinking about scenarios in our heads, worrying about what people will think and say about what we will say and do.
‘Second guessing’ is one of my personal habits that is annoying to me, yet I find it very difficult not to. I am more than often trying to say or do what the person I am interacting with hopes I will say or do. It gets very tiring mentally and you never really switch off. However, four things have helped me greatly…my loving wife & family who understand my anxiety; music as it helps distract and focus my mind away from running through endless scenarios and worries; Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) techniques to help when I for example feel a panic attack coming on; and finally nature and the great outdoors.
The latter I enjoy simply by walks, observing the changing wildlife and flora or just by pottering about in the garden. Even in a city you can seek out nature, be it by a walk around a nearby park, looking out for bird life and wildlife near to you, looking at any trees local to you – tree hugging optional 😉 You can reach out to people and the biggest step is asking for some help or even recognising you need to tackle your mental health.
One of the last great taboos in our society is mental health and it doesn’t have to be. Join in this year’s Mental Health Awareness week and find out more here