A multi-instrumentalist and former Royal Melbourne Hospital NorthWestern Mental Health (RMH NWMH) Consumer Arnaud LeBon has been using his talents to heal some of RMH’s most vulnerable patients.
Musician Arnaud LeBon has been employed by The RMH NWMH as a Peer Support Worker, spending his Saturday using music as a form of therapy for consumers in the John Cade, the Intensive Care Area (ICA) and Eating Disorders units.
In these units, Arnaud responds to consumers’ request for where they’d like the sessions to go.
“It’s important to go with the flow in these sessions,” he said.
“Some days the consumers want me to play guitar so I’ll play guitar, other times I’ll teach them how to play, and then some days they just want to discuss my bipolar disorder, which I’m quite open about.”
Arnaud’s most rewarding experience is seeing consumers fully immerse themselves in learning an instrument.
“There comes a point in the sessions where their understanding of an instrument clicks, like an ‘a-ha!’ moment,” he said.
“At these times, it’s like they’re not in ICA; they’re in an ‘a-ha!’ moment”
“You notice a great change in their self-esteem and confidence.”
Arnaud’s musical talents were first spotted by Bronwyn Rappell, an RMH NWMH PeerZone Facilitator who noticed his ability to connect with consumers when he attended PeerZone Workshops, designed for people in recovery.
“We thought it was a good idea one day to get a musician in to play for our consumers, and Arnaud was the perfect fit,” Bronwyn said.
“He exudes a warmth that instantly connects to even the most unwell consumers on our ward here at John Cade.”
Arnaud was hospitalised at RMH NWMH and diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2017. Four years after his hospitalisation, Arnaud still enjoys going to a weekly coffee group meet up (organised by RMH NWMH) to connect with former consumers.
“It can be very lonely to be called bipolar until you meet someone like you,” he said.
“It’s good to get together with other people where you connect on that part of ourselves”
In addition to his role at The RMH NWMH, Arnaud spends his time teaching music students, as well as perfecting his playing of many instruments – including the double bass, guitar and piano.
“Music is a good tool to go from a bad place to a good place.”
You can view Arnaud’s music on his website.