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Great Yarmouth- new mental health group

PUBLISHED: 11:41 07 October 2008 | UPDATED: 11:56 03 July 2010

It is an innovative group that uses song to combat mental health issues and challenge prejudice.

Now its musical work has been so successful, Norwich-based Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) wants to

set up three new groups across the county, including a possible base in Great Yarmouth.

It is an innovative group that uses song to combat mental health issues and challenge prejudice.

Now its musical work has been so successful, Norwich-based Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) wants to

set up three new groups across the county, including a possible base in Great Yarmouth.

The group is now looking to hear from people in the town who want SYHO workshops.

Since its beginnings in 2004, hundreds of people have been helped by SYHO, which is aimed at users of mental health services, their carers, family and friends as well as mental health staff.

The group meets every Monday at the Phoenix Community Centre, in Mile Cross Road, and through singing many people have found the confidence to return to work or get more involved in their community.

Penny Holden, from Sparham, joined in 2004 and is now chairman of SYHO's steering group.

The 58-year-old, who has bipolar disorder, said before she became a member of SYHO she was stuck at home in deep depression and had to give up work because of her condition. Now she has the confidence to stand up and speak in front of crowds at conferences, runs SYHO's website and works on its business plans.

In what is World Mental Health Week this week, she said: “Singing should be on prescription. SYHO has transformed my life. The idea is

not to build a choir but to be a stepping stone in people's recovery from mental health issues.

“About 20 to 30 people come along each week but they are not always the same people. You can wander in and there will always be something you can pick up and sing.

“Singing together lifts your mood. Before I was very isolated, but SYHO helped me learn how to talk to people and smile and feel like I had something in common with

others.”

The group has also enjoyed performing in concerts - combating

the stigma of mental illness by working with other choirs and musicians and demonstrating to the public what they can achieve.

Ms Holden said: “The concerts give people such a boost because they feel they have achieved something.

Low self-esteem is one of the main things associated with mental health issues, and it is fantastic to feel you have achieved something with other people. It gives you a feeling of comradeship.”

SYHO has been given £7,000 by the Norfolk Community Foundation for running the Norwich workshops, and six sessions for each of the three pilot groups.

It is already speaking to people

in King's Lynn and is especially keen to hear from people wanting SYHO workshops in north Norfolk and the Yarmouth area.

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