Johnny’s song fights mental shadows
The power of song could help those with mental illness conquer their disorders.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Week, which began on Monday, the Mental Health Foundation has joined forces with singer-songwriter Johnny Matteson to release the tune Fighting Shadows.
Johnny, who suffers from bipolar disorder, hopes the song will help people through the stigma and marginalisation that can come with having a mental illness.
But the Freemans Bay resident says he kept the theme of the song simple so anyone can relate to it.
“It’s about the way you feel about yourself and how it affects what you do. The verses talk about the person’s negative experiences and the chorus looks back on those experiences and recognises that they were just ‘fighting shadows’.”
He says everything from body size to sexual orientation and ethnicity can affect the way a person feels about themselves.
“There’s a range of things people can feel badly about in life, but they can grow and conquer that.”
After suffering a breakdown in his late teens, the 44-year-old says getting a job and making music helped him recover a sense of normality.
“They allowed me to fit back in as a contributing member of society.”
Along with his work for the Mental Health Foundation, Johnny is currently putting together his third album and helping out with the music for a film.
Mental Health Foundation chief executive Judi Clements says Johnny’s song could make a real difference.
“People with experience of mental illness are in successful employment, having relationships and families, and acting as positive role-models.
“This needs to be recognised and we hope the powerful message contained in John- ny’s song will encourage families, employers, healthcare workers and the media to play a role in that.”
The song can be downloaded from www.mentalhealth. org.nz.
Johnny and a number of other artists perform at the Kings Arms tomorrow from 8pm celebrating Mental Health Awareness Week.
A free family outing acknowledging World Mental Health Day will take place at Western Park on Saturday from 10am to 1pm with music, dancers and entertainment.
Sing a song: Musician Johnny Matteson has joined forces with the Mental Health Foundation to release the song Fighting Shadows for Mental Health Awareness Week.