Music for Mental Health: Local artists perform in Kingston in aid of Mind charity

Local charity Mind in Kingston hosted a music stall on Sunday at Kingston Ancient Market Place, part of a fortnight of events to mark World Mental Health Day 2021.

New Malden singer-songwriter Beth Jakob performed at the stall. Jakob has previously fundraised for Mind, having co-founded Emfest, an events company that hosts live music to raise money for the charity. The 2021 event, held at The Royal Oak, New Malden, raised over £14,000 for Mind in Kingston.

“We started EmFest around six years ago when my older sister Emily sadly took her own life aged 21. We put on events of music & comedy to raise awareness for mental health and money for Mind in Kingston,” said Jakob.

“For me, music has always been a therapy and I have found that other people feel similarly. It brings us together in a way that is indescribable, but incredibly powerful” she said. 

“Mind in Kingston continues to do incredible and vital work in the community and we’re so honoured to support them…In our overall time working with [Mind], we have raised around £50,000.” 

Beth Jakob cofounded Emfest after her sister Emily died in 2015. Image: bethwritessongs/Instagram

Persephone Pickering, the outreach and engagement officer for Mind in Kingston, said: “We have been putting on events both in-person and virtually, to raise the awareness of the mental health services we provide as we would like everyone in and around Kingston Upon Thames to know where they can turn to for support if they are struggling.

“Mind in Kingston are here to ensure that everyone with a mental health issue in and around the borough of Kingston Upon Thames gets support and respect.” 

Neil Long, breakfast presenter on local station Radio Jackie (107.8), compèred the music stall on Sunday.

“I’m really glad the conversation’s opening up. I think there’s reason for hope. I’m 53. In my day we wouldn’t have even had the words [to ask for help],” he said.

Speaking of the “fantastic” work done by Mind, Long said: “You don’t have to have all the answers all the time. Indeed asking the question leads to the answer.”

“I’m a very big advocate of mental health. I’ve been blessed with incredible mental health at times. At other times, like most of us, I’ve struggled,” said Long.

“It’s good to acknowledge that cliché, ‘it’s okay not to be okay,’ but also to have the resources and for people to know about those resources.”

SHALEA, a London-based musician, also performed on Sunday. Her song “Tell Me” was written about the late television presenter Caroline Flack and the toxic effects of social media.

Flack died in 2020 after the Crown Prosecution Service pursued an assault charge against her. Flack’s death sparked public discussion regarding the toxicity of social media and online abuse.

SHALEA raises money for Mind through her music, and performed an original song about Caroline Flack and the impacts of social media on mental health.

“My music aims to highlight mental health. If I ever have a gig I donate all my money to [Mind] as they really do help,” said SHALEA. 

“It doesn’t matter who you are – celebrity or not we all suffer from certain things. 

“Nasty comments, spreading lies and rumours about people really can end in loss.”

Long said: “Bad mental health [wouldn’t exist] if everyone understood and nurtured their mental health.

“Will broken legs ever go away? Probably not, but we do now have a good understanding of how the body heals and given the right nurture from a doctor a broken leg will heal by itself.”

“What if we had that same understanding for mental health – that with the right nurture and right support, we knew we could heal ourselves. Wouldn’t that be good to know? Slowly but surely, we’re stumbling in that direction.”

Jakob of Emfest added:  “The importance of raising awareness for me is all about getting people talking & for people to know they are not alone. There’s incredible people, like those at Mind, who are on hand to help with some great resources.” 

Find out more about Mind’s schedule this week (11-18 October) including an online quiz on Friday and their own stall at Surbiton Farmer’s Market on Saturday. Information on Mind in Kingston’s services can be found on their website.

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