Yanamah was “drowning in the depths of despair…yearning for a glimpse of kindness and a friendly gesture”. Before her mental health deteriorated, as she wrote in a recent poem, she was “a woman of distinction” but now she is “forgotten and lost”. Her words, set to classical song, form part of a groundbreaking arts project to break down barriers about mental health and introduce audiences to a new genre of music.
The Creative Madness in Song project is run by charity Song in the City with The Maudsley Charity, part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The awareness-raising drive involves composers working with texts written by people with experience of conditions such as schizophrenia and depression; the songs are performed by classically-trained singers and pianists.
Young composers and people with experience of mental illness have collaborated to produce songs that include compelling descriptions of being sectioned and frank accounts of life with mental illness. There are two two free public concerts in London this week, tomorrow at St Mary’s Church, near Lewisham Hospital, and Wednesday 25 March at Guy’s Chapel, Guy’s Hospital.
The concerts are in partnership with Breathe Arts Health Research, a social enterprise that develops artistic projects in healthcare.
My full piece on the innovative programme can be read here on the social care pages of the Guardian.