Johnny's story

Johnny and Malaika at Raw Sounds Initiative

Johnny was starting to build a career as a backing vocalist when he started to feel unlike his usual self. He was bottling up his emotions and struggling to cope with the thoughts surging through his mind. Things came to a head when he couldn’t shut off the thoughts and he found himself pounding the walls of the bathroom in frustration. His family rushed him to A&E, in distress. Shortly afterwards, he was diagnosed with psychosis.

“It was the feeling of not knowing what to do and just being stuck. It was then that I actually broke down and I didn’t know what to do and voices were just getting to me.”

His care coordinator discovered his love of music and referred him to the Raw Sounds project at Raw Material Music and Media Education, in London. Raw Sounds uses Comic Relief money to help people who are dealing with mental health issues to feel less isolated and to gain skills and confidence by writing, singing, performing and producing music.

“When you come here and something sort of makes sense again, it just brings you back out of yourself.”

Johnny has found the project a great place to be creative and develop his performance skills. He’s now been off medication for two years and dreams of performing on the West End stage.

“No matter what else is going on in your head, you just forget about it. It’s nice. I’d like to be in Lion King, that’s the dream!”

Johnny and Malaika at Raw Sounds Initiative

Project profile

Around 4,000 people registered with a GP in Lambeth have a severe mental illness; three times higher than the national average. After being discharged from hospital, there are limited opportunities for 'care in the community' to aid recovery.

The Raw Sounds initiative, by Raw Material Music and Media Education, in Brixton, tackles this by involving young mental health patients in music-making, initially on the hospital ward, and then after they’re discharged.

By providing this outreach work in hospital wards, weekly community sessions and one-to-one support for young people to move into volunteering and training opportunities, the project helps participants feel less isolated and gain in skills and confidence; all contributing to their longer-term recovery.