Dan Collins Band shines light on mental illness

The video features poignant messages about mental health stigma. Picture: YouTube
The video features poignant messages about mental health stigma. Picture: YouTube
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Well-known Edinburgh locations are seen in a different light as part of a new music video aiming to raise cash for a local mental health charity.

Edinburgh-based group The Dan Collins Band uses the Capital as a scenic backdrop to spread a powerful message about support for people with depression, schizophrenia and other mental illnesses.

The four-piece selected Support in Mind Scotland as the chosen charity for their festive single, Christmas Eve (in a Nuclear Winter).

The video shows lead singer Dan Collins and others standing in the east end of Princes Street and the Royal Mile, holding poignant messages about mental health stigma as crowds rush by.

Among the signs are “one in 100 experience schizophrenia” and “I am not my illness”.

The former tram depot at Shrubhill also features in the video.

The video features poignant messages about mental health stigma. Picture: YouTube

The video features poignant messages about mental health stigma. Picture: YouTube

Songwriter Dan Collins, 28, thought the song would be fitting as a charity Christmas single.

When he heard about Support in Mind through a friend, it had a special resonance with him, given that he has suffered bouts of depression in the past.

“It’s a very niche, small charity and not very well known,” he said. “Specialist support is absolutely invaluable. One of the things that is most difficult about any kind of mental health illness is how isolating it can feel.”

Mr Collins, who lives in the Abbeyhill area, added: “You very much become locked in your own world. You can be perceived as self-centred and selfish, but there’s a medical barrier there. I felt self-destructive and withdrawn. A big part of my recovery was using music as a form of expression and meditation.”

One of the things that is most difficult about any kind of mental health illness is how isolating it can feel.

Dan Collins

He said that songs which touch on the subject of depression don’t necessarily have to be sad.

“It can be tongue and cheek, gallows humour,” he said.

Christmas Eve (In a Nuclear Winter) focuses on what would happen if the city was under fire, and how people would react by pulling together.

It puts a twist on some traditional Christmas cliches and aims to “celebrate the indomitable human spirit”.

The single features striking artwork; an apocalyptic scene of two people standing on a wartorn Princes Street, with the Scott Monument in the background.

As well as the instantly recognisable scenes on Princes Street, the Royal Mile and outside the St James Centre, the video also features shots of Dan and his fellow band members Asim Rasool, Sam Siggs and Craig Stoddart performing at the derelict former tram depot at Shrubhill, off Leith Walk.

Mr Collins said of the video, which took just five hours to shoot, said: “It was absolutely amazing being in there (Shrubhill). It is visually very grabbing and really interesting.”

Frances Simpson, chief executive of Support in Mind, which aims to help and empower all those affected by mental illness, said: “This is the first time Support in Mind Scotland has been supported in this way and we are so grateful to the Dan Collins Band. Not only will this raise essential funding to help us continue to provide services to people with mental illness, but this will help us to raise awareness of our work with young people who might need support.”

A launch night will be held for the single at Studio 24 Saturday night from 7pm.