Sing Your Heart Out: Community Singing as Part of Mental Health Recovery

Tom Shakespeare and Alice Whieldon report on a mixed-methods study of the Norfolk-based (UK) community-run “Sing Your Heart Out” (SYHO) project in their article, “Sing Your Heart Out: Community Singing as Part of Mental Health Recovery.” Through a combination of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with project leaders and participants, along with participant observation, Shakespeare and Whieldon set out to evaluate the effectiveness of the SYHO project for promoting wellbeing amongst participants, as well as recovery for those participants who have experience with secondary mental health services. In addition, they also seek to identify those characteristics of the project that make it distinctive for those wishing to replicate the approach undertaken by the SYHO organisers. One of the project’s distinctive features is that it is not primarily a form of therapy: ‘Mental health or illness was not the focus of the workshops’ (154). Rather, the four workshops comprising the SYHO project afford opportunities for individuals to meet, interact and to get involved with the project in a setting free of labels that provides a ‘model of good communication’ while serving as a form of public education that helps to reduce the stigma some participants might have formerly associated with mental illness. Shakespeare and Whieldon’s study provides rich detail on the structure and benefits of a self-organised community singing project that contributes to ongoing studies in the therapeutic potential of singing for mental health recovery.

Read the full article on the Medical Humanities Journal website.

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