Tonic: Music For Mental Health

Tonic Music for Mental Health is a registered charity based on the south coast of England. We raise mental health awareness, challenge stigma and promote mental wellbeing through music and the arts. We already have a proud history and have helped many isolated and vulnerable people in our community.

Tonic was founded nine years ago to support adults experiencing mental ill health with their recovery through participation in music. We have an established programme of music workshops and choirs that supports a number of people in our community.

From our early beginnings promoting mental health awareness, we now champion mental health action. By providing opportunities for people to participate in music and the arts, we directly support them on their journeys of recovery.

We believe that participation in music and the arts can aid you on your journey of recovery.

Many of our participants have previously been admitted to hospital and use Tonic as their way of staying well. Others use Tonic to aid their transition back into the workplace after a period of mental ill health. Many more have made new friends and built a support network through Tonic. We help people to build their resilience, self-worth and confidence through positive risk-taking, accomplishment and artistic expression.

Tonic Rider Programme

In January 2021, Tonic launched a new programme, Tonic Rider – supporting musicians and music industry professionals with good mental health across the UK. We provide a free programme of support including 6-week therapeutic peer groups, Mental Health First Aid training, Music Performance Anxiety workshops and Wellbeing workshops. All of our workshops have seen full capacity attendance since we launched.

The music industry has been significantly impacted since Covid-19 and a high proportion of the sector receive little to no mental health or wellbeing support. What little support exists is often provided by non-mental health professionals charging high fees to profit from distress.

As a team of mental health professionals and musicians, we understand the unique pressure the sector experience and are qualified to make a significant difference.

Many people working in the music industry experience mental health issues. They can be brought on by the highs and the lows, the touring, the late nights, and the lifestyle. The industry can be volatile and competitive, with no financial security. This leaves people vulnerable to developing mental health issues.

Tonic Rider aims to address this by providing music industry-specific mental health support.

Tonic Rider is a new programme to promote good mental health in the music industry, providing mental health support both remotely and at venues. With the music industry on its knees and many people having lost their livelihoods, it is needed now more than ever.” Barry Ashworth, Dub Pistols / Patron

A peer support group of 10-12 music industry professionals, meeting weekly across six weeks, is being run by Adam Ficek – musician, psychotherapist and Babyshambles drummer. The group offers a free and safe space for music professionals to be heard and supported. The peer support group is funded by Help Musicians.

“I divide my time between being a professional musician and a psychotherapist immersed in the world of the music industry.

“From my experience in both worlds, I have witnessed the steady increase in psychological distress across the board in these environments. The pressures faced within the volatile and precarious infrastructure of the music industry can lead to both high rewards and crashing lows. From my own psychological journey, I highly value the specialist support and understanding that the Tonic Rider programme provides.

“I feel privileged to be a part of Tonic Rider, and I look forward to using my own experiences as a musician and psychotherapist to develop a much-needed resource for everyone in the music industry.” Adam Ficek, Musician / Psychotherapist / Babyshambles

A CPD accredited Mental Health Awareness in the Music Industry course is being run by Rachel Jepson – musician, psychotherapist and counsellor. The 1-day course covers unique issues associated with mental health in the music industry.

“Now, more than ever, it is apparent that the music industry comes with its own unique set of circumstances that can be associated with mental health issues. Having knowledge of these issues can help raise awareness and support music industry professionals to achieve good mental health.”
Rachel Jepson

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and Suicide Prevention training will be provided free to grassroots venues. MHFA training provides the skills needed to recognise and support someone experiencing mental health difficulties.

Our training programmes are being piloted at the 100 Club in London and the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth, before being rolled out to green rooms, festivals and Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) members across the UK.

We will also be providing training courses developed in-house, tailored to the needs of the music industry.

Tonic already has years of experience providing pop-up stands at gigs, festivals and events under the banner of our Never Mind the Stigma campaign. We provide information, promote our cause, and raise funds to keep Tonic services free for those in need.

These stands are being expanded to include Tonic Rider, enabling us to provide direct support to anyone in need, including backstage support for people on tour.

We also plan to expand our work at festivals with live music, chill out areas, and a dedicated team to provide mental health support.

Tonic have been attending festivals, gigs and tours since our very beginning. We receive such an incredible response, with so many people opening up to us about their experience of mental health, and we know we can make a bigger impact with Tonic Rider.

We provide a free programme of workshops, training and courses including:

● 6 week peer support group facilitated by Adam Ficek. The next group starts Monday 16 August 12:00 – 1:30pm – we have a few spaces remaining if any of you would like to sign up.
● Music Performance Anxiety workshop.
● Mental Health First Aid training (a two-day certificated course qualifying participants as Mental Health First Aiders).
● Music and Mental Health – a CPD accredited one-day course.
● ACT – a two hour acceptance commitment therapy workshop.
● Emotional Resilience – a two hour workshop.
● Wellbeing Group – a 6 week course.
● Suicide First Aid – certificated half day / full day courses.

Link to Registration Form

Barry’s Flying Circus

Barry’s Flying Circus is an annual Tonic Rider fundraiser founded by Tonic patron and daredevil Mr Barry Ashworth, taking place at AeroSuperBatics in Cirencester. Tonic wingwalkers are strapped to the wing of a biplane to perform aerobatics in the skies over the Cotswolds. The 2020 edition kickstarted Tonic Rider by raising over £30,000.

Having recently lost fellow artists to suicide, Barry knows only too well how touring pressure, excess and exhaustion can have devastating consequences. Mental health support in the music industry is paramount.

2020 saw Barry, Bez and the Barry’s Flying Circus team come together for a heartfelt day, creating some very special memories along the way. On behalf of Tonic Music for Mental Health, we united to raise funds for Tonic Rider.

Our mission? To promote good mental health in the music industry.

Both Barry and Tonic Music for Mental Health are looking forward to 2021, when Barry’s Flying Circus will be hosting a two-day event on 28th and 29th September, welcoming many new members.

“What a great day supporting Tonic – a mental health charity. I’m lucky coz I’m happy mental. Within my own band, we’ve had quite a few members who’ve suffered mental health issues, so it’s great to see that there’s a charity out there who recognise support is needed in the industry. So many people have such uncertain futures.

“Everyone going through life suffers highs and lows, and when you’re at one of those low points, it’s good to know that there’s a bit of support out there for you.

“I think the most important thing is not being afraid to speak out and talk, because when you share your problems it always lightens the load. Hopefully, there are better times ahead.” Bez, Happy Mondays / Tonic fundraiser


The Tonic Ska Choir is an uplifting choir that provides opportunities for people to come together and sing covers of the biggest ska tunes. The choir performs at gigs, festivals, rallies and events, as well as recording covers in a professional recording studio. The Tonic Ska Choir was funded by The Specials through their Encore album launch at the 100 Club and the tour that followed.

The Tonic Ska Choir was funded by The Specials. Here’s how it started…

October 2018
The Specials start planning their 40th anniversary celebrations with the announcement they are to release a new album, ‘Encore’ on 1st February 2019, their first in 38 years.

January 2019
The Specials announce details of their album launch and that proceeds from this night will be donated to Tonic Music for Mental Health.

February 2019
The Specials launch Encore with an intimate show at London’s iconic ‘The 100 Club’ as part of Independent Venue Week and presented by BBC 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq. They are joined on stage by Saffiyah Khan on guest vocals. Proceeds from the launch enable Tonic to establish the Tonic Ska Choir. Encore debuts at number 1 in the Official U.K. Album Chart. Tonic are invited by The Specials to provide information stands on their 2019 UK Tour. Guest donations from the tour are donated to Tonic. All proceeds are used to start the Tonic Ska Choir.

April 2019
The Tonic Ska Choir is launched in Portsmouth and starts with 12 members. The Choir performs 14 gigs throughout the rest of the year, and goes from strength
to strength, with over 50 registered members by 2020, with more joining every week.

July 2021
Following lockdown restrictions, the Tonic Ska Choir are back with over 60 registered members and a 20 song repertoire.


Here are just a few quotes of what members say about their participation in the choir:

“Due to the fact I’m no longer using drugs or alcohol to fix myself, life has a new meaning and I’ll be honest – the buzz I got from singing with the Ska Choir was better than any drug I’ve ever had”.

“Usually I can’t wait for the weekend to arrive. Now I’m wishing it was Tuesday tomorrow!”.

“Fantastic night – I feel a lot more confident now”.

“If I’m having an anxious few days, I know singing with you all will make me feel so much better”.

“Thank you for making my day shine after a horrible few weeks with my depression”.

Patrons & Ambassadors


Terry Hall (The Specials)
Barry Ashworth (Dub Pistols)
Kevin Cummins (Music Photographer)


Eddie Piller (Acid Jazz)
Lynval Golding (The Specials)
Gary Crowley (Broadcaster)
Jeff Horton (100 Club)
Morgan Howell (SuperSizeArt)
Seanie Tee (Dub Pistols)
Biff Mitchell (Festival Organiser)
Denise Black (Actress)


Registered charity in England and Wales (1189913).

Private company limited by guarantee (08093898) – incorporated on 6th June 2012.