We would like to thank Anthony Banks for taking the time to tell us about Music Unity for Mental Health.

Tell us about the 8 year journey to becoming a music and mental health organisation

My journey goes further back than 8 years for the mental health and music side but I will start with the moment I decided to do something for others and help to prevent other people going through similar to me and use the power of music to help and inspire.

Around 8 years ago I was going through a very tough time in my life, my marriage was breaking down, I had lost my house and over time I was having a breakdown, but during this time I wanted to do something to raise awareness for Mental Health.

Having worked in and around live and electronic music since I left school and being brought up on music within my family since I was very young, I wanted to use all the experience and knowledge to help others.

The initial idea was to run a one off event to raise money for an outside charity, just something small, but the momentum this got in the space of 2 weeks after I put the idea out there was amazing and very overwhelming.

I realized that I had something much larger to deal with and as I was going through my own personal struggles I just didn’t know if I was going to be able to carry this through.

I was getting therapy, in and out of hospital and now found myself looking for a roof over my head.

The idea had grown from a One room event of 400 people to looking at a complex of rooms with a capacity upwards of 3000…There was in the end over 100 DJs and 25 brands wanting to be involved.

The event would have had to be around 18 hours in length.
I decided to put these plans on hold to try to get well and this took way longer than I expected but I needed to get well.

Over the next 5 years I continued to work on myself and I had many false starts where I felt strong enough to take these plans on again.

I thought I was ready but I was not so I took myself away from clubbing and social media once again and plodded on. All the time having this idea in my head and this dream of maybe one day getting this all started. , it was tough because I knew what I wanted to do but there was no point in me trying to help others while I couldn’t 100 percent help myself.

MU4MH wasn’t even part of the idea during this time. I just had the event idea.

So in the 6th year since I decided to rebuild my life I was at a point where I was able to start looking at an event. This time I was determined to launch. But this time it had taken on another form, the past 6 years I realised Mental Health was an even bigger thing and especially within the music industry and clubbing scenes.

I remember just sitting with my note pad which I would do a lot of times just jotting down ideas and it became obvious to me that we needed something where people would come together to raise awareness together, not just clubbers, but the entire industry.

Everyone and anyone could come together for the cause. Whether that be Clubbers,DJs, Venue Staff, Volunteers. Clubbers could come to one of our events and raise awareness without even talking about it.

DJs could do the same but at the same time use use as their creative outlet if they were themselves struggling. More ideas like events funding FREE DJ workshops and studio production time was high up the list so anyone could have the opportunity to learn something new or do something creative to take their own minds of their struggles.

Volunteers at each event again is another way to bring people in and be a part of the music. Working alongside their fave DJs, helping to run an event is one of the best feelings, and I wanted to let others experience that too.

Music Unity For Mental Health was finally a thing and I couldn’t wait to get it out in the open.

That was 3 years ago now and we are now growing at a decent rate and the name is out there and I think we have shown how serious we are about putting the cause front and center in everything we do.

We launched at EGG London but had a free party at London’s famous Cyberdog store in Camden. Since then we have held 5 real events and due to Covid we took it all online and held 6 events events on our Twitch channel and took the music to peoples homes and raised lots of cash for outside mental health charities.

The main idea for MU4MH is to make every single event we do about the cause. So as many know we aren’t fixed to one genre, we have created mini brands under the MU4MH unbrella.

At these events we add an extra unobtrusive layer for the cause. Around the spaces you will find our merch stall selling music and mental health related products, we also decorate the venues with feel good messages and other surprises just to add that something extra special to the events.

Music has helped me so much over the years and when I reflect on my life there were periods when I never even realised how much it helped me. It was a no brainer to set something up to help others. I was helped so much not just by music by some awesome people who looked after me, It’s good to give something back.

What kind of ongoing projects are you running at the moment?

We have just launched our latest initiative which is called Connected. This new online mini brand visits different areas of The UK showcasing local talent and shining a light on a worthy local Mental Health charity/non-profit.

All the DJs stream live from one place, whether that be a studio or internet radio station. This initiative enables us to spread awareness even further and gives DJs and opportunity to support us from anywhere in The UK.

We also finally have our first FREE DJ Workshops starting in June at the awesome On The RIse DJ Academy. All funded by our events.

We have 2 real events for this year being announced soon including the proper launch of our Techno mini brand, Reflective Frequencies. We have held 2 very succesful online events for this brand during lockdowns. And of course the next installment of our Emotional Response Trance Parties hits London again in December.

We plan to take our merch stall into festivals from next year where we want to raise more awareness and possibly hold talks from industry people on music and mental health and even hold mindfulness sessions.

You’ve held events both in venues and online, what has the reception been like for these events and what do you have planned for the future?

The reception for what we do has been amazing. We keep getting told we are unique in the industry and the kind words of encouragement keep us moving forward.

I myself have had clubbers talk to me at events and say there is nothing like this where people can go and raise awareness in a clubbing environment every time. Many do this for many reasons. Many don’t even let you know. Maybe they have their own struggles or maybe lost someone to suicide and want to do something for the cause.

We try to create a fun, safe happy vibe at our events and so far the feedback for those has been amazing, Clubbers and DJs saying our Emotional Response Trance parties are up there with the bigger events means so much to me.

As regards to the online events, we have had lots of people say we helped them get through lockdown’s when real events were banned, which warms our hearts to know we were still able to provide music and help people through those difficult times.

Our name and what we do is getting out there and regularly get messaged from people and DJs all over The UK asking how they can support us. During lockdowns BBC Essex contacted us and invited me on to a special show with other organisations to talk about how important music is to our mental wellbeing during all the covid restrictions. Very surreal 🙂

We plan to take our merch stall into festivals from next year where we want to raise more awareness and possibly hold talks from industry people on music and mental health and even hold mindfulness sessions. We would also love to one day have our own area at festivals for our own DJs to play… or maybe our own little festival 😉 More regular DJ workshops and start production ones too. And a few ideas we can’t talk about just yet 😉

If you could give a message to people reading this post, what would it be?

I always find it difficult to answer these types of questions but I’ll give it a go 😊

I think what I always wanted to do more than anything is give people a voice when they felt they couldn’t speak about mental health. I’ve always found it easy in certain situations to talk about my own issues but I also know its very difficult when I am low.

By creating MU4MH, anyone can come to one of our events or other projects and either have a chat about mental health or just stay quiet and let the event do the talking for them, if that makes sense?

DJs and producers have a creative outlet and often their live sets and releases are expressing their own emotions, the same as song writers express theirs in their lyrics.

I’ve gone through some very dark times, as have many others and we all have a different story to tell, I never thought I would get through mine but my own use of music either through Djing back in the day or at home as a hobby, music production or planning and running events is what has got me through it all.

MU4MH is as much a form of therapy for me as any other kind of therapy, It is proof we can all come through and do good in the world after going through such dark times. I believe creative art, in any form can be incredibly soothing in times of pain.

MU4MH is your platform, whether that is creatively or just using it to raise awareness. If you want to do something for mental health and be a part of the music, come to an event, join us on a workshop, come and say hello on social media..

We are super approachable.
Let the music empower you and inspire you.
You won’t be disappointed 😊

Help us Make Lots Of Noise And Make A Difference



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