Johnny’s song fights men­tal shad­ows

Central Leader - - News - By Scott Mor­gan

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.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

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.

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