Does music making improve your mental health?

Does making music improve your health?

Iv always been an advocate of music benefiting the soul, but over the past few months I have seen evidence of this on every project I'v been on.

Over the Past 3 months we have been piloting a project working in a hospital school in Leicestershire. working with young people who are in residential care. The aim was to create a CD with songs on which could be used in therapy sessions and class to relax the young people.

Ward Three is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and is a 10 bedded ward providing care for young people aged 12 – 18 years with mental health problems. Our patients come from Leicester City, Leicestershire and beyond. The average stay is only 5 weeks. Most young people are voluntary patients. It is not a secure unit; and planned leave, whether in the locality or at home, is encouraged as soon as possible. Young people are admitted to Ward Three either in a state of crisis, or when their circumstances and presentation becomes complex and an assessment is needed.

Iv seen young people, smiling, increased communication and have heard reports of young people responding better after making music.

Here are some case studies from ward 3

Case studies

  1. ED This young man attended 2 sessions. He was presenting with considerable mental health difficulties, and at the time of these sessions was mute. At the time of the first session it was difficult to know how much he understood of what was happening around him. He did, however, manage to join one of the education staff on the conga and tap out a rhythm. In a subsequent meeting with him, his mother and staff, the drumming was brought up in a progress report. For the first time he responded and smiled, rather than sitting passively in the meeting. It turned out that he had previously had drumming lessons. For his mother this was an opportunity for problem-free talk and a reminder of her son’s skills during a very difficult time. By the second session his presentation had improved. He was able to join in in a more active way. This was a useful tool to assess his progress. We were able to feed this back to the clinical team who are always looking for evidence of recovery.
  1. CG This lass engaged in 3 sessions (with one more to go). She has a complex mix of neurodevelopmental, learning and physical difficulties that have resulted in some self-destructive behaviour, social difficulties and poor self-esteem. During the 3 sessions she fully engaged, and participated well. This experience gave her opportunities to interact with others (she often works on her own school work in class, and has a tendency to isolate herself on the Ward), and practice her social skills with supportive peers and staff to give her feedback. The Soft Touch staff have seen an improvement in the interaction with others, as well as her singing skills. She is immensely proud of the songs she has written, and has continued to do this on the Ward and on home leave, beyond the life of the group.


“They are really friendly people, Peri and Steve, they got me inspired to write songs and I never thought I’d ever do that!”

We have many other examples of young people looking forward to the sessions on Fridays. Many of these young people are struggling with suicidal ideation and for them this is the first future-orientated thinking they have done in a while. They also agreed it is helpful to engage with sensitive professionals who know little about them and their histories. The nature of our young people is such that they struggle to recognise the good in themselves at all. During the Soft Touch sessions, however, they contribute to what is undeniably a good and finished project. This makes a difference.

Ward Three’s Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Abhay Rathore

Dear Rosie, I am writing to support your bid for the continuation of the work done by the Soft Touch colleagues for the patients on Ward 3.

I have noticed that there is a sense of excitement about the Friday when these sessions are on and young people have been enjoying themselves thoroughly. The participation is excellent and the feedback is very positive as well.

I am very pleased with the efforts of the colleagues and that we are able to offer this alternative to young people. This has helped us in providing a much more holistic approach to care for some of the most unwell young people in the county.

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