The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic’s flagship Music and Health Programme, now the longest-running and largest of its kind, celebrates its 15th birthday in October 2023. Working across 27 wards in four partner NHS trusts, the Music and Health programme draws on links between music and mental health, using the power of music to promote wellbeing and improve the mental and physical health of participants.
Along with original partners Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Improving Me (a consortium of 27 NHS organisations) and the Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, the Music and Health programme has supported over 18,000 people living with mental and physical ill health across the Liverpool City Region.
The programme places emphasis on individuals’ own creativity as part of their recovery journey, and raises confidence through the learning of new skills. It also opens up opportunities for participants to experience live music in the community and in care sites. For example, it gives both participants and NHS professionals access to free musical activities, concerts and rehearsal visits to hear the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
Tying in with World Mental Health Day 2023 (Tuesday 10 October), the 15th anniversary celebrations will see current and past participants from across the programme take part in special performances both on the stage and in hospital wards. In addition to performances, Liverpool Philharmonic and the University of Liverpool will release a joint special report on the benefits the programme has had on participants, their families, NHS Staff and musicians since its inception. On 16 October, the celebrations will draw to a close with a special event held at the Houses of Parliament.
The Music and Health programme began in 2008 in partnership with Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust, who pioneered the first mental health NHS Musician in Residence programme. Michael Crilly, director of social health and community inclusion, said, ‘Those of us connected to this partnership between Mersey Care and the Philharmonic over the last decade have witnessed first-hand the phenomenal impact that music has had upon the recovery journey of literally thousands of service users across all parts of our organisation.
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‘These programmes have delivered a truly humanising process, through which our service users have been engaged as a whole person and not simply seen as the diagnosis that so often defines their existence. Mersey Care has remained committed to this partnership year on year not simply because it is merely a ‘nice’ thing to do but because we have successively seen the programmes deliver very real and transformative recovery and well-being outcomes.’
An evaluation report by the University of Liverpool demonstrates that the Music and Health Programme enhances mood and self-esteem for those experiencing mental or physical illness; helps people rebuild confidence and develop skills; and supports independent living in the community, making new connections or returning to employment.