Award Winning Kayla Kavanagh

Award Winning Kayla Kavanagh

Our series, looking at the incredible Mental Healthy Award Winners and their inspiring work, today takes a look at the inspirational life and work of Kayla Kavanagh.

By Liz Lockhart

Kayla Kavanagh is a Yorkshire-based Irish singer/songwriter who plays nine musical instruments.  She also writes and performs her own original music and has toured the UK with her ‘one-woman band’ show.  For many years Kayla has lived with PD (personality disorder) and is an advocate for mental health awareness, using her musical creativity as an outlet for her experiences.

In addition to her music, Kayla works as a senior KUF Trainer for Emergence, service user advisor for Rethink, media volunteer for Time to Change and a voluntary role with her local NHS in the strategic development of Personality Disorder services.

Kayla launched her single ‘On the Borderline’ at the inaugural National Personality Disorder Congress in Birmingham in 2009.  A few months later she was interviewed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, talking about the positive impact music has had on her recovery.  She also used this opportunity to announce her debut album launch in May 2010.  Kayla’s second album, which continues her journey, is due to be launched this month.

Kayla tells us that her hope for the future is that more positive awareness around Personality Disorder in the media is achieved through the excellent work of organisations such as Emergence and Mental Healthy, who, she says, continue to battle to change attitudes across the country.

Kayla would like to thank all those who bought her first album and tells us that a percentage of the money from her second album will be given to Emergence, the Personality Disorder organisation which she works with both as a musician and trainer.

When asked about how she feels about winning a Mental Healthy Hero Award, Kayla said ‘I am thrilled about winning and must thank everyone who nominated me - it was an honour even just to be nominated and when I found out I had been shortlisted for the award I couldn’t believe it! Since receiving my diagnosis of BPD in 2009 Emergence have been absolutely crucial in my development both as an artist and now as a Senior KUF trainer. I can’t believe that I’ve actually won the award and am truly humbled to have been recognised by the judging team of such high profile mental health organisations.

Music has been the key to my wellbeing living with personality disorder, allowing me to focus the chaotic emotions into lyrics, music and song. Having had the opportunity to record an album and perform at events across the UK has allowed the positive message to ‘go viral’, and I am delighted to be launching the second album on the 15th of May, of which 10% of the crowd-sourced funds go to Emergence.”

‘I would like to say a huge thank you to Mental Healthy for their continual support over the past year, both of my music and sharing blogs/videos that I have placed online regarding Personality Disorder. It is fantastic to see the wonderful work that the magazine and website are doing in combatting stigma, and I am extremely proud to have been given such a prestigious award.’

‘Also thanks must go to all at Emergence who are absolutely amazing folks having supported me since my initial diagnosis in 2009; and last but not least to Nigel (who was a finalist for the Extraordinary Carer award) – without his care I genuinely would not be doing what I am doing today.’

‘Here’s to a fantastic 2012!’

To find out more about Kayla please visit

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