Research demonstrates that music enhances health and wellbeing, and is a promising tool in healthcare as an effective psychosocial intervention. According to the Centre for Performance Science, music’s potential to facilitate psychological change is clearly evident. Their studies indicate, among other health benefits, that creative musical engagement in adulthood enhances wellbeing, and that singing has a positive affect on cancer patients. Drumming has also been found to reduce depression and anxiety for people suffering from mental health problems, by providing a creative outlet for escapism and mutual learning space.
Proper emotional regulation is crucial to mental health and poor emotional regulation is often associated with psychiatric mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. Music has a significant effect over emotions, and therapists often use music to help clients to reach better mood states and even relieve psychiatric mood disorders. Medical News Today states that males who tended to listen to music to express negative emotions had less activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), while females who used music to distract from negative feelings had increased activity in the mPFC. This, therefore, demonstrates that music listening styles and genres can have long-term effects on the brain.
While individual music listening has profound effects on the brain, evidence also suggests that attending live music events, such as a choral concert, can significantly reduce stress hormones. Attending live concerts and gigs has shown an increase of 25% in self-worth and closeness to others, as well as a 75% increase in mental stimulation quotes The Independent. The study, conducted by O2 in conjunction with Goldsmith’s University in London, found that Brits preferred going to concerts and that music in general leads to increased happiness and a longer life span. Going to live music events will put you in a positive, healthy mood that will help increase your overall wellbeing.
While their music may positively influence their listeners, musicians are often the ones suffering from mental health problems. We previously discussed frontman Frank Carter and his struggles with his inner demons and depression. In extreme cases, some famous musicians have taken their own lives, like Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, due to unresolved mental health issues. Help Musicians UK is a non-profit charity organization who aim to help those who pursue a career in music. Their mental health campaign, #MusicMindsMatter, was launched last year and is dedicated to supporting musicians in the UK music industry. Their health and welfare team can help musicians connect with the right organizations to assist them with mental health problems.
William Congreve, put it aptly in THE MOURNING BRIDE: “music has charms to sooth a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak”. The power of music provides unparalleled benefits, escapism, and in a group setting makes one feel part of a community of people. Lottoland states that music has a rejuvenating effect on mind and body, while singing is a great way to relieve tension and stress. Whereas heavy metal can act as a ‘stress buster’, soft music such as classical music can reduce blood pressure and stress hormone levels. Moreover, playing an instrument and composing music positively engages various areas of the brain, rather than those preoccupied with problems, while reducing stress and helping focus emotions. Most importantly, it is helping patients with mental illness access positive and creative aspects of themselves, which in turns aids their healing process.