"Sing the song you were born to sing"

Manchester Mental Health Choir

On the 14th March at 6:30pm I set off ready to attend my first meeting with the newly formed Manchester Mental Health Choir. I was excited, but nervous, but the excitement of meeting a group of people with the same passion as myself took over. 

The choir was set up by Triple C, a collective of creative individuals who want to make a change in the access of the arts for the next generation, alongside Dan McDywer, the current Musical Director of several choirs with support from Cherylee Houston and Elaine Craig, a graduate psychologist. The aim being to create a safe, fun and non-judgemental environment in which to raise awareness about mental health whilst also having a positive impact on members own mental wellbeing.

I saw the choir advertised on twitter and instantly decided it was something I wanted to be part of. Despite to fact I would never describe myself as a good singer, singing in a choir is something that over primary and secondary school, I really enjoyed being part of and understand psychological impact research studies show to have a positive impact on mental wellbeing.  We all know there is nothing better than car trip with the radio blasting singing along, or a long shower singing like you just won the X-Factor. And research now proves that point.

From arriving at the venue, the beautiful Bridgewater Hall, I was filled with both anxiety and excitement, I was stood in a room of people i didn’t know however everyone there had something in common with me. They wanted to raise awareness and break the stigma around mental health whilst doing something fun. And that was something so so powerful. 

I walked in Hira at my side, and we looked like a lost puppy caught in headlights. The anxiousness took over both of us, but we didn’t let it win. Over we went and introduced ourselves to Cherylee, who made us both feel so welcome, that it wasn't long before we were talking to many other members of the team.

The night began with a buffet and getting to know each other, whilst also coming up with names for the choir and taking part in some optional research with Elaine. And then we went onto the singing. Despite being my first time, the choirs first meeting was the previous week, and thus they had learnt a song already. However, all this new were given the chance to catch up and soon the room was filled with the amazing sound of a powerful voice singing ‘Imagine, by The Beatles’, (what a song). 

The night certainly left me filled with endorphins with a smile on my face, and the want to fight the stigma even more. I got home, around 10pm, I was exhausted but the smile on my face knew that this exhaustion was different. It was an exhaustion worth while.

I attended the evening with Hira, another member of the Youth Mental Health Matters team, and we were soon discussing how much more this has made us want to start up a similar group for the young people we are working with. We are looking forward to finding out more about how we can make this happen, who we can work with, and how many young people we can help through this. It certainly isn't the end of what you will be hearing from us about this. So watch this space!

But for now, I look forward to seeing where the journey of being a member of the choir will take me. How it will help me with the important and often talked about topic of self care, and most importantly enjoying myself surrounded by inspiring people every wedneday evening. And singing, what can only be described as some fab tunes- good song choices Dan!

Find out more about the choir here: