Can you tell me about what lead to you creating the wearehummingbird.com?
After the unfortunate loss of a friend to suicide, I became compelled to understand why my friend and so many others reach a point where they cant find any other way to cope with the situation they find themselves in or the mental state they have reached … its no-ones fault when you get ill whether its your heart or your mind. I wanted to see why we keep metal health so quiet.
Initially we wanted to put on a gig, but soon realised that many others had gigs as a way to raise awareness for causes, and ours may not have the gravitas to achieve audience we wanted.
Simultaneously, my interest in mental health lead me to the NHS, to offer my marketing services as a free side project, as I saw this the best way to help, as I hated running and thought me doing a sponsored marathon would help no one!
So, we embarked on an awareness campaign to drive people to curated advise, but with the overarching belief that music can unite us all and give us the highest platform to raise awareness of mental health. But also that we all need to look after our own mental health while keeping an eye on each others.
What were your main goals/mission when you launched and how have they evolved as you’ve started to interact and work with people?
We wanted to get the most people possible to ask their friends and themselves if they were okay … its no different to look after your heart as it is your mind, so we want to dispel the myth that mental health is a taboo. Music can not only heal, us but unite us, so we wanted to use the music community to shout about this.
It’s a big responsibility to take on something that deals with issues as personal and life effecting as mental health. What were you reservations and fears about starting it?
We have always made sure our role is to shed light on the issue and that we are not the experts – our partners at the NHS are the experts. We are a directional site to the curate amazing help already available.
Tell me more about this linking up with the NHS.
I approached them to offer my services, and then we came up with the idea we can offer our own spin on the way they can make the help available to be found
You partner Mersey-based sectors, are there any plans to expand?
Yes – we are in the midst of a re-fresh of all our platform support … but Mersey-care are the UKs largest support function so we were honoured to start with them first.
You have a lovely area on your website where playlists are posted – featuring songs and podcasts that help people with stress etc. Has music always been a source of comfort and support for you?
Every day since I can remember – it’s a time capsule to the moment I first heard that recording or the amazing experience I enjoyed at the time.Music quite simply is magical
Some people look to music for escapism, other people use it to face issues (sound on) and feel not so alone in whatever they’re dealing with. What way do you tend to use it?
It is dependent on the mood I’m in, and the music Im listening to. It can be the soundtrack to a night out or the sonic friend in my ear when I need a cuddle.
Music can be incredibly helpful to people in terms of feeling part of something, hearing relatable or inspiring lyrics, feeling passionate about something etc. But for someone with anxiety it can be hard to immerse yourself in the community (gigs might be overwhelmingly daunting for instance). What do you suggest if this is the particularly conundrum?
I can only give you my humble opinion – but at a gig watching a band I love I am lucky to only ever feel part of that positive energy. I hope whenever and however people consume music they can enjoy it.
On a day to day basis what are you doing, what are your specific roles within the initiative?
I effectively manage the ideas and marketing initiatives – I also try to develop more connections and partnerships between us and other like-minded groups or platforms.Karl is our designer and Ade runs our social media.Brian is a huge support supporting our website and Abi is our merchandise sponsor.But it all started with my great friend Ben who spent the first 18months building this idea with me
Community is a word that is brought up frequently when you talk about the work you do. Do you think this is something we are lacking a bit these days in terms of neighbourhoods, and the towns we live in? Why is it so important to our mental health?
Again, just my opinion – but outside of sport I cant see another more engaged and broad community than music. My thoughts on the wider state of human community are my own … I just believe music can unite us and support us … as well as give us the best moments of our life
How do you think the aspect of community within the music industry for both fans and workers could be utilised effectively to help with issues regarding health and wellbeing?
It’s very simple – sharing your problems only results in others supporting you – using the music community as a way to increase the availability of that support can only be good.
Like we mentioned earlier, you make it very clear that you are not the experts and more of a community/page to help link people with whatever help they may need. I’m sure you still get a lot of messages from people in need, or in a fragile state. How have you prepared yourself to manage this part of the process?
We instantly direct any needs to the experts and the NHS – they are the experts not us – we see ourselves as a friend who can guide them to that help – not the help its self.
Have you found running this site difficult in terms of providing a service to others, but making sure you focus energy into your own well-being?
No – I’ve only been encouraged by the work I do with WAHB.
I presume it’s an incredibly rewarding thing to be part of but can it be quite draining too due to the stories and experiences you must hear about each day?
Its an honour to be part of this and the people who have helped and continue to help us
If people wish to support or get involved with you, what are you looking for right now? How can people get on board and help?
Just drop us a line – if its time, a t-shirt or a playlist – we’d love to chat.
If you had the power make changes in terms of how mental health care is run in this country would would you suggest?
I’d get mental health on the school agenda … just like the sex education chat you have in high school – we should be empowering the youth of this world with the awareness, information and support to make sure we give them the tools to look after their mental health … prevention (when it’s possible) is always better than cure.
What do you think the music industry could be doing to help those in the industry, but also the music fans?
Support – awareness – honesty – prevention of the issues that exacerbate the problem – it’s a very tight industry with the workers and supporters who have a tiny share of that profit – its their obligation to use these vast profits to help its lovers of the art.
Do you have any special projects or goals for the year ahead, services you wish to expand for example?
The support is only there – we just need to normalise the conversations around mental health and offer more guidance on how to find and ask for this incredible help
What are your go to albums/songs to relieve stress or reduce angst etc?
I literally don’t have enough time to type them all! But I cant go too far wrong with an acoustic guitar and honest song.
Who/why should people get in touch with you?
Music is the answer to this – come and join us change the world … even if its just one tiny change at a time.