Caring for Mental Health Through Music, Compassion and Hope

PRINCETON, N.J., APRIL 19, 2017 - When a cowboy with a message of compassion and a desire to eliminate stigma connects with a company whose mission is creating products for better mental health worldwide, good things will happen. Jason DeShaw, a singer/songwriter and national award-winning mental health advocate from Montana, recently visited the Otsuka offices in Princeton, New Jersey to share his story of hope and recovery through song. DeShaw, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and alcoholism, travels North America performing Serenity in the Storm, a presentation on mental health interwoven with original music. DeShaw was invited to film an interview and sing two of his songs, Going Home and Under the Rainbow for PsychU, a free online resource library for the mental health community supported by Otsuka Pharmaceutical Development & Commercialization, Inc. (OPDC) and Lundbeck.  The PsychU team was keen to have DeShaw share an individual’s perspectives on mental health issues, from coming to terms with receiving a diagnosis to enabling meaningful interactions with health care professionals. Kimberly Lonergan, OPDC Senior Medical Science Liaison, extended the invitation after meeting DeShaw. “A doctor I work with first told me about Jason, and I was not only taken with his musical talent, but his desire to help those in need by breaking down the stigma that is so often is associated with having a mental illness,” says Lonergan. “Jason uses his musical story to open the hearts and minds of everyone from congressmen in his home state to mental health professionals across the country, so naturally, I wanted him to be a part of PsychU.” PsychU’s mission is to contribute to improving the future of mental healthcare and treatment outcomes for individuals with mental illnesses by offering their healthcare providers information on new developments and best practices via online news feeds, resource libraries, polls, virtual forums, regional meetings, and more.  The PsychU community ( is comprised of over 23,000 physicians, clinicians, care managers, nurses, pharmacists, payers, administrators, and mental health professionals dedicated to this pursuit. DeShaw welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with PsychU. “We share a passion for reaching out to people living with mental illness and those who care for them so that we can improve health outcomes.  On top of that, I believe personally in the importance of practicing compassion - mental illness is the most complicated form of illness, and to make real change, we need a return to compassion. We have to connect as human beings.” The result of the collaboration is a pair of videos entitled “Conversations of Hope”, which can be found on the PsychU website. In one video, DeShaw sings Going Home; in the other, he discusses his journey with bipolar disorder and shares insights and advice for healthcare professionals, friends, and family. Above all, DeShaw provides hope and encouragement to those struggling with a behavioral health diagnosis. DeShaw says that for as long as he can remember, he’s wanted to help others. By combining his musical talent with his personal experience and message of hope, “I have found a way to make good come out of struggle.” DeShaw is currently on a national tour, speaking and performing at community theaters, high schools, psychiatric hospitals, VA centers, and most recently, McLean Hospital in Massachusetts, the largest psychiatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. When he returns to Montana, he will begin working with primary care clinics, meeting with staff to talk about compassion. To see a short teaser of his performance and interview at Otsuka, click here.  To visit PsychU and see “Conversations of Hope”, click here. For more information about Jason DeShaw, his music, and his upcoming appearances, please visit, or follow him on Twitter at @DeShawSings. People should be advised to talk to their healthcare providers for advice about their health and medication.
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