Tonic Music for Mental Health is a not-for-profit organisation (company number: 08093898) based on the south coast of England, established June 2012. Terry Hall (The Specials) and Kevin Cummins (music photographer) are both Tonic patrons.

Patron Kevin Cummins said:

“With swingeing Tory government cuts plunging mental health care into one crisis after another, it’s vitally important to support groups and charities like Tonic who work tirelessly on behalf of people with mental health problems. Huge benefit cuts are next on the agenda, while Theresa May and co. appear to be trying to outdo Thatcher to see who is the most uncaring Tory government of all time. The failure of this government to support people who've been marginalised through no fault of their own is an act of barbaric criminality. This is why I was honoured to accept a role as a patron of Tonic and hopefully with your help we can all make a difference.”

Patron Terry Hall said:

“I'm proud to be a patron of Tonic Music for Mental Health. They're a great organisation that run music and art projects that anyone can get involved in.

“One of the things I did when I became ill, because I couldn't communicate, was to start painting. My therapist had said it was a good way to express yourself, so I started to paint The Jackson 5, except the first one I drew ended up with six of them on it! Anything that gives you a voice is really good. Art and music are a great outlet and have been such an important part of my recovery.”


Challenging stigma through music

Tonic Music for Mental Health is a not-for-profit organisation based in the South-Coast of England and established in 2012. We are honoured to have both Terry Hall (The Specials) and Kevin Cummins (Music Photographer) as our patrons.

Tonic raises awareness and challenges the stigma often associated with mental illness through music and art based events. We organise music workshops, gigs, art groups, and community projects throughout the year for people experiencing mental health problems.

We were most recently invited to attend The Specials gigs on their 2016 tour where we had information stalls. Tonic supports musicians and artists by funding art and music projects that helps individual recovery and enables the individual to earn an income through their craft.

In the current climate of austerity measures and government cuts, services available to people with mental health problems are often limited and hard to access. We aim to support people who may already be receiving input from mental health services and those who have not had any previous contact to provide an inclusive support network to help people through their recovery.

Watch the videos below for an introduction to the work we do.

Friends of Tonic

Vinny Peculiar

“The Tonic workshops have proved inspirational. Seeing people come together to create and connect as musicians, poets and artists has such a strikingly positive effect on their mental wellbeing. I have felt privileged to be a part of the process.” Vinny Peculiar is a musician, singer-songwriter, poet, Tonic Music workshop facilitator, and formerly a Mental Health Nurse.

Barry Ashworth of Dub Pistols

“I think anything that brings mental health to the fore, makes people more aware, and opens up a discussion has got to be a good thing. Tonic is a great project” — Barry Ashworth.

Barry Ashworth founded electronic music group Dub Pistols in 1996.

Testimonials from people we’ve worked with

Mel

I have been involved with Tonic for the last four years as my son who is both dyspraxic and suffering from mild depression was invited to a music workshop by the charity. Through music he has found a healthy channel for his frustrations and difficulties and was able to develop his music skills increasing his self esteem and self confidence.
I am convinced that music and the role he has played as a helper and fundraiser for Tonic has reduced drastically his need for treatment and medical intervention. He is now going to university to study music and is considering using the skills that Tonic has developed to train as a musical therapist.

Laurence Smith

I have been involved with Tonic Music for Mental Health for almost a year now. I found out about Tonic at the Portsmouth International Kite Festival where they were hosting a stall to raise awareness about mental health and the groups and activities they have to offer. It couldn't have come along at a better time in my life for me!
I had just completed a drug and alcohol rehab and have suffered from anxiety, bouts of depression, and a lot of self-doubt over the past 20 years. Steph and everyone running the stall were so friendly, comforting, and welcoming, and it put me at ease, so I started to ask some questions.
This combined with a love of all types of music and art has proved to be a truly winning combination for me the past year. I started to attend the art and then later music groups and found them to be very fun but most importantly great for my self worth.
I have met some amazing people at these groups and made some strong friendships with people who can understand some of the feelings I get. It feels like an extended family to me. The groups were thoroughly enjoyable and we have created some outstanding art and music together which I believe has a truly positive effect on the way I think and feel.
Tonic have given me an outlet to talk about my problems with people I can trust and any advice I have received has always been of a great help. I get as much help from Tonic as I have done from any other service I have engaged with and in many cases more so.
I feel that my personal development has vastly improved after receiving the confidence they have helped to rebuild in me. They have massively help my build a road to a ‘normal’ and successful life, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.

Terry Hall (Patron)

Communication is the big one. That’s why events like Tonic are so good.
Anything that gives you a voice can be really good. Music is such a basic thing — you don’t really need to be able to play anything. A tambourine can sometimes help.

Jamie

There’s no preaching involved in Tonic. If people want to pick up information about mental health, that information is available. I’ve got first-hand experience of dealing with mental health — I have a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder and I’d had experience of psychosis through the years so it's something I’m pretty much up with. The idea of Tonic is to spread the message. It’s not just people like me who can suffer it can be anybody. It could be your best friend, a family member or it could be you.

Barry Ashworth

Anything that brings mental health to the fore and opens up discussion has got to be a good thing. It’s a good project.

Rob

Music is such a fundamental important part in rehabilitation. I’ve been in a hospital ward where if it hadn’t been for a beaten up acoustic guitar with three strings, I probably wouldn’t still be here.
Unfortunately, music isn’t one of those things that can be prescribed on the NHS. It can’t be. They will prescribe therapies and drugs which are fantastic in their place but as a recovery tool and occupational therapy music really should be up there. It's about having the validation that music can be a useful tool in rehabilitation because I’ve said it before, I’ve been in a state where I’ve been quite poorly but there has been a beaten up guitar that you can just pick up and go somewhere on your own and play music. If your musically minded it can be fantastic. But even if you’re not musically minded just taking the time to try and learn something or just making a sound. You can be as angry as you like with a musical instrument, no one cares.

Ted

I think it’s a really good idea to use music as a way to help people with mental health problems 'cause I know people who have suffered with mental health problems and love music so the two different aspects are really close to me.

Sarah

To me Tonic is about inclusion and embracing everybody that comes to the workshops and the gigs. It doesn’t matter if you turn up and can create something amazing and can create amazing music. It's about coming and being there and being with the people.