A music-focused non-profit has stepped up its mission by launching a sister business to provide workplace training for mental health first aid and suicide prevention.
We are Hummingbird promotes mental health awareness. It was set up by music lovers John Logue, Karl Draper-Firth and Ben Haird in 2015 in memory of their friend Matthew Cogley, singer and guitarist of the band Failsafe. Each week, We are Hummingbird publishes a curated Spotify playlist and personal message from a music fan, producer or performer to help break the stigma of silence that surrounds mental health. Musicians are also encouraged to submit live sessions for the not-profit’s YouTube channel.
John and Karl have now been joined by Ian Hurst, a Mental Health First Aid England Instructor for Adults and an Instructor for Suicide Prevention, Education and Training. Under the name of We are Hummingbird Health, Ian and other qualified instructors will be training Mental Health First Aiders and Suicide First Aiders up and down the country.
Through his friendship with John, he had been a follower of the playlists since they launched. Then after experiencing depression for the first time, Ian, who worked in sales, felt motivated to complete initial mental health first aider training. The concept of We are Hummingbird – and the music – inspired him to leave his career and put a business plan together to deliver training under the We are Hummingbird flag.
“Listening to all these diverse tracks, knowing they helped other people through a bad time, really touched me. People have been using the power of music to express their mental health for a long time and without realising they are even doing it.
Before music was online people made ‘mix tapes’ love songs for sweethearts, playlist for parties and holidays and who didn’t record the top 40 chart? These are all examples of people using music to promote good mental health. The playlists we share are simply the next level of this. I loved the idea of the community, the sharing. My own way through depression has been to talk about it – and the more I talked, the more I learned about help that was available.
Sometimes though, asking for help is the last thing you feel you can do, and not everyone knows how to respond or even recognise when someone is in crisis. This is where training comes in. It gives you confidence to offer help. Not only can we help our work colleagues in tough times, support in the workplace is good for business too.”
According to the Mental Health Foundation, a staggering 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.
The impact on families is heartbreaking: latest figures from the Samaritans show 6,213 suicides a year. Twelve men commit suicide each day – referenced by the 12-song playlists published each week by We are Hummingbird, which is run by Karl and John in their spare time. While they focus on the music industry, their playlists have followers from all walks of life; and half are women.
Karl, a graphic designer at ADI in Fulwood said:
“Music is a powerful way to tackle the sense of isolation that mental health problems create. The playlists are so intimate. All the songs mean something personal, they’ve been a positive vibe and helped other people get through bad times. And they say, hey, we understand what you’re feeling – we get it, you’re not alone.”
John, marketing professional, said:
“Our mission is to create a support network, ensuring the distance between being alone and having a person to talk to is as short as possible. Our concept has grown into something we never imagined. We’re delighted Ian will be taking our ethos into new environments, because we can all make a difference and the more people understand this, the better.”
More information about We are Hummingbird Health’s courses can be booked at www.wearehummingbirdhealth.com. Businesses can put forward representatives and individuals are welcome too.
Visit www.wearehummingbird.com for information about the playlists and details on how to submit your own session.