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Combining live music, comedy and exercise with panels on mental health and wellbeing, a 24-hour festival in London aims to help people get ahead without burning out
By James Drury on 11 Jun 2019
Getahead Festival is a 24-hour non-stop event in London with a focus on mental and physical wellbeing, productivity and entertainment. Now in its second year, it’s expanding to take over two venues in London Bridge – Omeara and the Ministry – for a 6am–6am programme including yoga, fitness, meditation, massages, talks and panels, workshops, comedy and live music.
Taking place on 14–15 June, panel topics include how to get a good night’s sleep, handling mental health in the workplace, and building resilience. Among performers in the evening are Subsoul, Melody Kane, Carly Wilford and Hutch, plus there’s a multisensory experience and performance organised by Tom Middleton. Participants can pop in and out as often as they like, or can stay for the whole 24-hour event.
There’s been strong support for the event from artists, many of whom donated tracks for a drum’n’bass album put together last year by Ben Verse from Pendulum. Money raised went to Music Minds Matter, a 24-hour helpline for people working in the music industry. Artists who donated tracks include Chase & Status, the Prodigy, Spor and Sub Focus.
Max Owen, better known as drum’n’bass MC Linguistics, has been involved with the festival since last year. With the live music business increasingly focusing on wellbeing, Owen is a passionate supporter of more help for people dealing with mental health problems.
“For most of my adult life I’ve lived with anxiety and depression, and for most of that time I’d been able to keep it to a copeable level,” says Owen. “However, working in the music industry as a touring artist, travelling all over the world for most of my 20s, this became increasingly harder to manage with the lifestyle I was living: a lot of late nights and early mornings and non-stop partying all took their toll, and eventually my body and mind said ‘no more’ and life became impossible to bear.
“The idea behind Getahead has always been to grow year on year and become a SXSW of mental health and wellbeing festivals”
“I decided I needed to get some help so I turned to friends and family, told them what was going on and was lucky enough to get the help I needed in time. One major thing that experience taught me is that simply being able to talk about how I was feeling was a huge help.
“So since then I’ve always tried to be as open about my mental health as possible in the hope it might help others to do the same. So at the beginning of 2018 when a long-time friend and one of the founders of Getahead, Jenni Cochrane, approached me with this idea of a festival that encourages people to share their experience, reduce stigma and ultimately save lives, it was a no-brainer for me.”
Tickets are £10 for a day or evening pass and £15 for the full 24 hours.
“The idea behind Getahead has always been to grow year on year and become a SXSW of mental health and wellbeing festivals,” adds Owen. “We already have people travelling in from all over Europe, even from as far as Canada and the US, which is a beautiful thing.
“I think that shows just how much our message, what we’re trying to do, and most importantly the way we’re trying to do it, resonates around the world.”
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