Heartstrings & Heartbeats continues to strike healthy conversations on mental health

  • Project started with release of star-studded single called “Troubled”
  • Aims to explore the science behind mental health issues

When multiple stakeholder public engagement project Heartstrings & Heartbeats was launched, it hit the ground running with release of a hit lead single aptly titled “Troubled.”
Denmark-based producer Kirat ‘Kiz’ Singh, better known as “Oceans,” alongside Danish artist Jacob Jørgensen, famously known as J Spliff, teamed up with local traditional four-string guitarist Solly Sebotso and soulful songbird Mpho Sebina to create an upbeat song to raise awareness on mental health.

“Apart from its brilliant aesthetics, the song – which was well received by the masses – also aims to address the important subject matter of having open conversations around mental health,” said co-founder of the project from Infers Group, Abraham Mamela.
“In future we will focus on areas other than music, including fashion design and dance. We are at a stage where we are creating different artistic works that will trigger dialogue and get people talking about mental health challenges.”

This is because mental health is generally ignored in most parts of Africa, Botswana included, which is evident in the paucity of mental health facilities across the continent. The irony is that the stigma continues even now when the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues and needs. Aware of this, Heartstrings & Heartbeats decided to work with influential creatives and role models in their communities to open a dialogue on mental health through their creative works and conversations.

“These influential figures are showing their communities that it is okay to talk about mental health,” Mamela said. “Creatives are also affected by mental health 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. We 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 (issues).”

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

To further deepen their dedication to their cause, a team from Denmark is in Botswana to shoot a music video of the song “Troubled.” They have also staged and engaged in co-creation workshops to discuss mental health among creatives.

Co-founder of the project, Sidney 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 mental health issues can be shunned,” Sithole said.

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