Presented in partnership with the Brett Thomas Doussan Foundation and local music therapist and songwriter Kathryn Rose Wood and, the event will feature a selection of talented New Orleans musicians and focus on topics such as personal experiences with mental illness and the importance of mental health and well-being. The lineup highlights an eclectic group of artists — Kristin Diable, Spirit McIntyre, Dominic Minix (Yung Vul), Assata Renay, and Paul Sanchez.
The concert was started in 2017 by Wood after she lost one of her brothers to suicide. “I kept thinking how there are a lot of great walks and trivia nights and fundraisers for mental health awareness and outreach. However, they’re kind of silos for people who know about these things, [but] it doesn’t necessarily push those who would not otherwise be aware to check them out.” So Wood thought maybe a music-related event would be more accessible and encourage more people to participate.
While Wood played at the first concert, her role has morphed more into that of a facilitator and organizer, and she’s begun using her experience in the music-scene with her training as a therapist and counselor to try and bridge the gap between the two. “There’s not a ton of us, and I feel like I should utilize both those roles to helps this event be as effective and purposeful as possible.”
This year there’s an added component — instead of the funds raised going to multiple mental health agencies, the main beneficiary will be a new pilot program called “Music for Mental Health: In Schools.” This program will be a youth-focused mental health outreach program supported by local suicide-prevention non-profit Project Fleur-de-lis (PFDL) and adapt the structure of the benefit concert for schools and youth community agencies across Orleans and Jefferson parishes.
“The goal is to have a 70 to 90 minute workshop piece where we bring in a couple of musicians who share [some] songs and the stories behind them to break the ice,” says Wood. “And then after the sharing the students get broken into small groups with each musician using music as the foundation.” Wood hopes this structure will provide an opportunity to have students acknowledge and support each other and also begin to normalize the idea that mental well-being should be an important factor in their lives.
“With national statistics citing suicide as the 2nd leading cause of death in people ages 10-24, and a 2016 report on the prevalence of teen suicide in Louisiana, with 50 students having completed suicide that year in Orleans Parish alone, the program was born of the need for relatable mental health outreach and education opportunities for local youth and young adults, and the respective stakeholders’ passion to develop such a program,” reads the press release for the event, which also states, “With the knowledge that music is one of the prime connectors in a community, Music for Mental Health: In Schools is avowed to being a diverse, informative, and approachable resource for schools and the youth that inhabit academic institutions.”
The concert runs from 8:30PM – 10:00PM with doors opening at 7:30PM. Food will provided from Wayfare Restaurant at no-cost to attendees. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door, and free with a student ID.
More information about the event can be found at Gasa Gasa’s website here. More info about Kathryn and her music can be found here and, finally more about the Brett Thomas Doussan Foundation (BTD) can be found on their website here.