Music event showcases help for mental health | News and events

Music event showcases help for mental health

Members of the Black Dog Music Project with Kerri Madders

As Mental Health Awareness Week approaches (13-19 May), Kerri Madders, chair of the Black Dog Music Project and a former service user of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) talks about a special event the group is hosting to mark the week, and her own mental health struggles.

It was a passion for music, particularly the drums, which helped Kerri Madders on the road to a different kind of life after years of emotional turmoil, depression, panic and abuse.

Now she is hoping her experience will help others find solace and recovery through the power of music and is encouraging people to find out more at an event in Wroxham on Sunday 12 May to promote mental health.

Kerri’s story is a tough one to hear.  Her needs relate to a traumatic history resulting in emotionally unstable personality disorder, agoraphobia, panic and depressive disorder. She experienced childhood emotional neglect and was sexually abused at the age of 13, when she also left school and took an overdose.  

Then, when her own daughter reached the same age, the panic attacks started.

“I had experienced suicidal ideation for most of my life and cried every day, I also struggled to get out of bed most days and rarely got dressed.”

Kerri was referred to Hellesdon Hospital. “The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust mental health team worked with me and helped me to understand my feelings and diminish my suicidal ideation, to where I very rarely experience it now.”

Cognitive Behavioural therapy (CBT) helped Kerri to focus on the present and that was when she was introduced to The Black Dog Music Project. She went along with her support worker, then continued her appointments at Hellesdon for another couple of years, while learning to play the drums.

“When I first joined, I didn’t speak to anyone and just headed to my tuition room. Within two years I joined a band, had found some self-worth, started socialising with others, started a degree with The Open University (which has led to employment), learned to trust others, and found a passion for the drums, which I had never played before attending”.

“Seven years after joining I was voted in to be chair of the project and although I experience exposure therapy regularly through this, I have lots of support from the volunteers and am doing well.”

Kerri is keen to promote help for mental health far and wide and, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week, the project has organised the Black Dog Music Festival at Wroxham Football Club on 12 May, 10:00 to 19:00. The day will include stands showcasing the help on offer from mental health and disability charities, food and drink, other stalls, and, of course, music. There’s parking onsite and entry is free.

NSFT will be represented at the event through the trust’s membership scheme, which is open to anyone to join. There will also be a chance to talk to NSFT governors and to find out how they support decision making within the trust. Find out more at

The Black Dog Music Project is a user-led, non-profit charity set up to provide music sessions for people experiencing mental health problems or physical disabilities.

Kerri said: “We use a process of steps which includes music achievements and social interactions which helps with confidence building and wellbeing. It is a safe, friendly, and supportive environment for people to learn about music.

“Music has the ability to free the mind, and playing an instrument has so much to give a person experiencing mental health problems.”

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