A BARRHEAD woman has revealed how a music group ‘saved her life’ after she spent years suffering from mental health problems.

Anne Dowie, 56, is a member of the Buddy Beat – a group of around 20 people who are battling mental health issues by getting together to play drums.

It might sound simple but Anne said the club, based in Johnstone, helped her overcome a major struggle with anorexia and self-harming.

She told the Barrhead News: “I used to be anorexic. My parents were told I wouldn’t make it past 30 but I’m 56 now. This group saved my life.

“I used to self-harm and was in and out of psychiatric wards for a long time but now I’m not self-harming and I’m not in hospital. What does that tell you about this group?”

It’s not just drumming Anne has got into. After joining the Buddy Beat in 2008, she has since starting singing in Barrhead, as well as attending drama workshops.

“It’s given me the confidence to do all sorts of things,” said Anne. “I’m the longest-serving member of the Buddy Beat.”

The Buddy Beat started up at Dykebar Hospital, in Paisley, as a social inclusion project.

The group aims to give people with mental health issues a space to express themselves and make new friends away from any judgement.

Last week, members were visited by Renfrewshire South MSP Tom Arthur and the new Minster for Mental Health, Clare Haughey.

Mr Arthur, who studied music at university before carving out a career in politics, said he was impressed by the sound the group made and the effect it has had on people’s lives.

He added: “It was a real pleasure to meet the Buddy Beat group and I’m glad the Scottish Minister for Mental Health, Clare Haughey, was able to join us for the session.

“Coming from a musical background, I know of the pleasure that making music with others can bring – and it was clear those participating were having great fun.

“I also found some of the stories about how Buddy Beat has helped those in the group quite emotional.

“I cannot praise them enough for the work they do to reduce social isolation for those with mental health experience.

“Groups like this are so important in helping people express themselves and I look forward to joining them again in the future.”

The Buddy Beat is led by community musician Jane Bentley and is always on the lookout for new members to join in with music-making.

The group, which performs at events across East Renfrewshire and Renfrewshire, meets on Thursdays, from 10am until noon, at Johnstone High Parish Church.

Anyone who would like more information should visit www.thebuddybeat.com.