Music For Mental Health

“Emily didn’t only just give us music but also hope, to show that things can get better. It’s an experience that will stay with me for a long time.” 

(Service User, Eating Disorders Unit, Bristol)

I am a British singer-songwriter and a patron of the mental health charity Restore. I’ve had 3 singles playlisted on Radio 2, toured with the likes of Don McLean, been interviewed on Woman’s Hour and Midweek on Radio 4, published 2 books and released 5 albums on Shaktu Records, the label I set up with my partner Christian Dunham when we were living in a shack in the Australian bush.

I ‘came out’ about being bipolar when my first book ‘Start Over Again’ was launched on Radio 2 on World Mental Health Day in 2010. Since then, as well as performing in arts centres and theatres across the UK, I’ve sung my songs for many mental health hospitals and groups. They are some of the most moving and rewarding gigs I’ve ever done.

“This should happen more often – the difference in the SUs [service users] is quite amazing.”

I’ve played on intensive care wards, rehab units, wards for people over 65, wards for people with dementia, adolescent wards, and medium-secure units for young people with serious mental health problems who have been through the criminal justice system. I’ve played for Mind groups, community groups, NHS staff conferences and AGMs. For the past 6 years, my song ‘Keep Walking’ has been used as the anthem song for the Defeat Depression campaign in Canada.

“I was so deeply moved by Emily’s performances, and her powerful recovery story which was so inspirational. “

I’m a great believer in the power of music to make people feel better and the response from both staff and service users to my mental health gigs has been fantastic. They all know that I’ve been sectioned myself and that the songs I am singing are about my own lived experience.

Please see below some of the feedback I’ve received. If you would like to talk to me about performing at your event, please contact us.

BBC Radio Bristol interview (2017)

Emily talks about music for mental health with Jonathan Ray


Feedback from managers

“I was so deeply moved by Emily’s performances, and her powerful recovery story which was so inspirational. I recommend Emily’s music and book to anyone, and particularly those who have experiences of recovery and mental health.” [Kimberley Iyemere, Arts Therapies Professional Lead, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough NHS Trust]

“It was just superb. Thank you for coming, playing such beautiful songs and talking about your experience of your own mental health and recovery. Your music is magical and hearing your recovery told through your songs was an incredible experience.” [Jules Pflaum, Occupational Therapist, Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust]

“I think it’s safe to say that during the 3 plus years I’ve been working with the Chippenham group there hasn’t been anyone who came along that’s had a more positive reaction than you. You really connected with the people there and there was much talk after you left about how much they had enjoyed listening to you and how much they had taken from the words you sang.” [Nigel Lambden, Devizes Centre Manager, Wiltshire Mind]

“We were so fortunate to have Emily perform for our service users at Wotton Lawn Hospital and Stonebow Unit. She was outstanding. A fantastic performer who moved both service users and staff alike. We hope she’ll visit us again one day!” [Kate Nelmes, Communications Manager, 2gether NHS Foundation Trust]

“Emily has an incredible voice and captivating lyrics which reflect the challenges she has faced and represents the experiences of many of Bath Mind’s service users.” [Kate Morton, Chief Executive, Bath Mind]

“I am writing on behalf of the Trust Board of Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust to say a big “thank you” for appearing at our Annual General Meeting. You gave a fantastic performance and I could see from looking around the venue when you were performing that everyone in attendance was captivated.” [Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive, Manchester Mental Health & Social Care Trust]

Feedback from the wards

“Emily has a wonderful voice, she sounds like Eva Cassidy. This should happen more often – the difference in the SUs [service users] is quite amazing.”

“People found Emily’s story inspiring and really enjoyed her music.”

“The readings Emily did really brought the session to life and demonstrated how people can and do recover so clearly. Extremely inspiring. Particularly helpful for staff who rarely see people achieve so much having had those experiences.”

“Emily made such a difference to the SUs, it would be good to have something like this more regularly.”

“People found the session very inspiring and at times emotional. They responded very well to Emily on a personal level and really enjoyed such a different activity. The fact that she attended and performed such an intimate session showed she valued the service users greatly.”

“The music was very calming to all of the SUs. The staff said it was a pleasure to listen to Emily and make such a difference to the SUs and carers in the ward.”

“It’s made a real difference to the mood of the unit today. Emily is lovely and can really sing.”

“Everybody gave very positive feedback about the event as a whole and praised Emily for her songs, musicality and how inspiring she is. They were delighted with her generosity (she gave a free single to every service user that wanted one).”

If you would like to talk to Emily about performing for your hospital or group, please contact us.