LivAbility Magazine

Edition 19 | Winter 2020

Using the freeing nature of rock music and dance

Story by Ambur Wilkerson
Photo by Ambur Wilkerson

In early November, the second annual Mosh for Mental Health took place at Tucson’s The Rock. Promoted by Motor Mouth Productions, the event held space for people to know they’re not alone when it comes to mental health.

Attendees were encouraged to wear costumes in celebratory post-Halloween fashion and the lineup of local bands, ranging in genre from metal to reggae, played all night. There was even a silent auction and raffle.

Proceeds, including ticket sales and what was raised from the auction and raffle, went to Tu Nidito, a nonprofit in Tucson that provides emotional aide to children dealing with grief and hardships.

From the event’s concept down to the chosen charity to donate to, these details were a result of the collaborative planning efforts of Laura O’Meara and Rachelle Fernandez.

“It was kind of my idea to start the event. I’ve always been in and out of mental health clinics and kind of dealing with mental health,” O’Meara said. “And I was volunteering at a local mental health charity down here called Our Place Clubhouse, and it just kind of dawned on me that I know the metal scene and stuff like that and why couldn’t we throw a show that just kind of gets rid of the stigma of mental health.”

The idea to have the event centered around moshing to rock music stemmed from the freeing message the music and eclectic dancing emits.

“With moshing and with rock and metal and punk, they’re all kind of things that kind of make you see it. They [the bands] make you see their music because they are out there and they’re not afraid to show who they are. They’re not afraid to be anything but wild and crazy,” Fernandez said.

I feel like we’re breaking the stigma [of mental health] because we’re trying to put it out there, like punk would and like metal [music] would.”

Another participating group was the Arizona Hardcore Community (AZHC), managed by Kristi Davis and Jeffrey Locke.

“The AZHC is a completely local, grassroots effort,” Locke said. “It came together a few years ago when a group of friends who all happened to play in local bands decided to come together as a way to support each other‘s music. We also wanted to put on live shows as a way of giving back to the community and local charities.”

And giving back to the community is what they helped do, even offering a snare drum to be raffled off as well.

When asked what she’d like to have people take from this event, O’Meara elaborated on the importance of bringing mental health to light.

“This is something that, even if you don’t have a mental condition, somebody that you know and love does,” O’Meara said. “This affects everybody, and it’s not something that we have to hide. It’s not something that we shouldn’t be able to talk about.”

The event raised $600 for Tu Nidito. The night was loud, but in the best way possible. Mosh for Mental Health’s loyalty to being bold and very “in your face” did not disappoint.

“Honestly, it’s amazing. I love watching all these people just coming together, all these different … characters and all these different unique people coming out of the woodwork,” Fernandez said.

*If you need someone to talk to, please call the national hotline at 1-800-273-8255. The Crisis Text Line also provides free, 24/7, confidential support via text message to people in crisis when they dial 741741.

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Ambur Wilkerson

Ambur Wilkerson is a 24-year-old content creator who loves storytelling. She received her B.A. in English with a focus in creative writing from California State University, San Bernardino in 2016 and her M.A. in journalism at The University of Arizona in 2019. She’s invested in topics such as social issues, mental health, entertainment, beauty, and lifestyle. To learn more about Ambur and her work, follow her on Instagram at @theamburnicole.

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