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Heartstrings & Heartbeats explore mental health issues

Jacob J-Spliff Jorgensen
When the multi-stakeholder public engagement project, Heartstrings & Heartbeats campaign was launched, it hit the ground running with the release of a hit lead single aptly titled ‘Troubled’.

Danish based producer Kirat ‘Kiz’ Singh well known as ‘Oceans’ alongside Danish artist Jacob Jørgensen famously known as ‘J Spliff’ teamed up with local creatives Solly Sebotso who is a traditional four string guitarist and soulful songbird Mpho Sebina to create an upbeat song to raise awareness about mental health.

“Apart from its brilliant aesthetics, the song which was well received by the masses also aimed to address the important subject matter of driving open conversations around mental health,” said the co-founder of the project from Infers Group, Abraham Mamela.

Mamela added that in future they would focus on other areas including fashion, design, and dance among others. He also said they are at a stage where they are creating different artistic works that would trigger the dialogue and get people to talk about mental health challenges.

Mental health is generally ignored in most parts of the African region including Botswana, an assertion that can be seen from the number of mental health facilities available to provide support to deal with the issue.

This has created a stigma and less attention for the health condition given the magnifier, which is the COVID-19 pandemic that has increased mental health needs. Heartstrings & Heartbeats then decided to work with creatives who are influential and role models in their communities to open up the dialogue on mental health through their creative works and dialogues.

“These influential figures are showing their communities that it is fine to talk about mental health.

Creatives are also affected by mental health challenges  and it might be

good to start from the owners of the problem to inform the dialogue so it shapes the data for scientists to pick areas they could explore for the sake of knowledge production.

We are currently facilitating interviews with creatives from all walks of life to inform our research,” Mamela said. They want to see creative people co-creating the solution and becoming mutual beneficiaries to the science.

“This will not only see creative people working together but also ensure scientists share research and knowledge on providing solutions to mental health,” he said.

The project facilitators are working with scientists from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Botswana to look at the generated data in an unorthodox approach in order to find ways of co-creating solutions, knowledge and better understanding of mental health issues.

To further cement their dedication to their cause a Denmark team landed in Botswana early recently to shoot a music video for the song, ‘Troubled’. They also staged and engaged in co-creation workshops to discuss mental health amongst creatives.

The co-founder of the project Sidney ‘Big Syd’ Sithole who is based in Denmark noted that his involvement in the project is to bring awareness to mental health as a former patient.

“I have suffered from depression myself and this project is dear to me because I understand how it can be shunned.

It is just as important as physical health. The objective is to reach as many people as possible to spark dialogues that can normalise mental health and treat it accordingly,” he said.


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