“You only hate the things you think you are.” Bill Ryder-Jones wrote those words for his 2015 song, ‘Two To Birkenhead’. The Merseyside artist has spoken before about mental health and, this October, he will do so again as patron of the Liverpool Mental Health Festival for 2016. Timed to coincide with ‘World Mental Health Day’, the festival will spread its wings around town and offer words that shine through the darkness at various music, performance and dance events. By Alan O’Hare.

“The arts can be a tool to help us find beauty in the most awful of things.” And so say all of us. Bill Ryder-Jones, Domino recording artist and Merseyside songwriting and guitar hero, is talking about mental distress and his role as 2016 patron of the upcoming Liverpool Mental Health Festival (LMHF, October 1st-16th). “Everyone knows that being open about issues of mental distress is what will one day shatter the taboo,” he says.

He’s not wrong. The world is getting smaller, communicating has never been easier… and yet the catharsis that creativity can bring is still something that raises eyebrows around the world. “What a brilliant thing that we can celebrate our imperfections,” says the ex-Coral man. “It’s a real honour for me to be asked by LMHF to be a patron and hopefully we can raise awareness and dispel some myths along the way, too.”

What is LMHF?
Organised by the trailblazing Liverpool Mental Health Consortium (LMHC), and coinciding with ‘World Mental Health Day’ on October 10th, LMHF uses creative partnerships to promote mental wellness, challenge stigma and features music, performance and dance – alongside stalls providing information and advice.

What is ‘World Mental Health Day’?
It happens on October 10th every year with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilising efforts in support of mental health. This year, LMHC (with Writing on the Wall) will be hosting a celebration event to launch a book featuring a selection of poems, short stories, diary entries/blog posts, letters, journalism, tweets and spoken-word pieces focusing on mental health. At the event, Ryder-Jones will be talking about his own thoughts and experiences with mental health and writing.

Tell me more… 
We’ll leave that to festival coordinator, Claire Stevens, who is development manager at LMHC: “We’re working alongside a huge range of partners in the mental health sector – and the arts – to deliver free events and activities which offer something for everyone this October.” An estimated 25,000 people attended 2015’s wide array of festivities…

What’s on this year?
Events in 2016 include a comedy night, an art exhibition in several venues across the city, a film night at FACT, training and creative workshops for all ages and an all day celebration at Williamson Square on Sunday, October 8th. Find out more.

And Bill’s role?
Ryder-Jones will appear at events, present prizes and talk out loud – the West Kirby artist believes that being upfront about mental health is a positive thing and that “… Liverpool Mental Health Festival is a brilliant thing, run by brilliant people, that will do brilliant things for so many. I’m so proud to be involved and hopefully I can be of some use!” It’s a big coup for the festival and coordinator Claire Stevens is delighted: “By becoming festival patron, Bill is helping us all to find creative and practical ways to talk about, and look after, our own mental health and that of our friends, families and communities.”

We share things all the time these days and never stop talking about them. It’s time we scrolled to our thoughts on mental health, too. Get involved.

Liverpool Mental Health Festival
October 1st-16th 2016
Various venues

Liverpool Mental Health Consortium
Liverpool Mental Health Festival
‘World Mental Health Day’

Pic by John Johnson




Paul Hitchmough
September 3, 2016 Reply
Hello, Just read the post on this issue and understand it entirely. I have early onset Alzheimers, although some people class this as a brain [disease] rather than a mental health issue, I would be delighted to sing a few songs or give a short talk on how the arts does certainly regenerate thoughts and feelings to get through the hard times, much respect and best wishes, Paul
    September 5, 2016 Reply
    Thanks for the comment, Paul. Good to hear from you... these are the people to contact: Best wishes.