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Music and Mental Health Programme

Using music and creativity to aid recovery

Music and Mental Health Programme

Liverpool Philharmonic and Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust have been working in partnership for 14 years, delivering programmes in Mersey Care in-patient settings and the local community, targeted at service users, their families, carers and Trust staff. Our other NHS partners include The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, and we welcome social prescribing referrals from GPs, Link Workers and mental health charities. 

The programme supports people in Liverpool and the wider city region living with a range of mental health needs and over the 14 years 17,000 service users and their families and carers have participated.

The programme creates pathways and progression routes including independent visits to Liverpool Philharmonic and sign-posting to other activities. We deliver a range of activities within Community settings, including Mersey Care’s expanding Life Rooms facilities.

"There are methods other than medication, to help people living with mental health problems. We know the music programme is working, the service users tell us it’s working and it’s making a difference. People with poor mental health lose their social networks and through creative projects we can help them recreate these and build new ones as part of their recovery. Being socially active and culturally engaged creates new lease of life."

Mersey Care Manager

Sessions and activities include: high quality music making, informal adult learning opportunities, composition and song writing, improvisation, participant-led group performances, visiting musician performances, Recovery College courses including singing and music appreciation, and employability opportunities and skills development. The programme also includes supported concert and rehearsal visits to Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.

"During the long process of recovery, the music sessions have helped me as some kind of anchor I can hold on to." 

Service User

A team of Liverpool Philharmonic lead musicians deliver the sessions and a further 50 Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Musicians have been involved with the programme, since 2008.

At the heart of every session is creating a person-centered approach to recovery, using high-quality music as a mechanism of change through self-expression and ownership.

"One of the most memorable sessions I have had, was with someone who had been in and out of services for 40 years. I had gone to the session with another member of the orchestra and we ended-up playing a Beatles song. This gentleman decided to join in and sing with us. He began to cry and get quite emotional, it turns out the song had been played at his mother’s funeral but his emotions had never come out. He had been planning to leave the centre that day, but after that he stayed on. He said that it had helped overcome the tension inside him. He has now been ‘clean’ for three years and credits it to what happened that day."  

Case study from Lead Musician

Liverpool Philharmonic staff have played a key role in supporting high-profile anti stigma and advocacy activities in the city. For example, we took part in the Zero Suicide Alliance Launch at the House of Commons in 2017, supported the Big Brew and other Mental Health Awareness campaigns and have contributed to the All-Party Parliamentary group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing. 

 In 2017 we launched a five year vision to roll out our programmes across Liverpool City region, also expanding our programme at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.  This includes our popular dementia-friendly concerts in Music Room and Relaxed Concerts in the Hall.

Over the next five years, we will also develop plans to deliver our ground breaking work in new settings and environments including hospital trusts and community services, young people’s services and additional secure services delivery such as Prisons.

Our aim is that this programme will support the wellbeing and recovery of 20,000 people living with mental health needs, their carers, families and communities, by 2023. The programme will develop confidence, skills and hope for the future, reducing isolation and exclusion of often highly marginalised individuals at very challenging times in their lives.

Read the review outlining the positive impacts of Liverpool Philharmonic’s innovative and far-reaching programme:

For further information contact learning@liverpoolphil.com