The Relationship Between Music and Mental Health
With the pandemic having shaken our world upside down in every way imaginable for the last 18 months, it is no surprise that our collective mental health has suffered. Couple this with the existential climate anxiety that can seem hard to escape, and the systemic defunding of health services, and it is no wonder that the rates of adults reporting clinically significant levels of psychological distress increased by nearly one third at certain points in 2020 and 2021.
While there is no substitute for adequate social and health care when it comes to safeguarding a society’s mental health, there are things that we can do day to day to improve our mental wellbeing. These things are absolutely no replacement for professional help, and if you are in crisis we urge you to contact mental health services. However, for those who simply need a mood booster, along with exercise, self-care, and mindfulness, music has been empirically proven to have a positive effect on mental wellbeing.
Researchers found that listening to music could increase dopamine, the neurotransmitter chemical that is associated with rewards, by up to 9%. The authors of the report wrote that their finding was significant in proving that humans obtain pleasure from music – an abstract reward – that is comparable with the pleasure obtained from more basic biological stimuli, with one of them commenting that the “paper shows that music is inextricably linked with our deepest reward systems”.
As well as this, music is also a well-established form of therapy that can be used to help people whose lives have been affected by injury, illness or disability through supporting their psychological, emotional, cognitive, physical, communicative and social needs. Because musical participation and response does not depend solely on the ability to speak, Music Therapy is a particularly effective clinical intervention for people who have difficulty communicating verbally. For people affected by disability, illness or injury, working with music therapists can be life-changing.
With all of this evidence to show the mental benefits of music, we encourage you to get listening and make it a part of your daily routine. Having a good sing-a-long in the morning can really set you up for the day, or taking some time to update your playlist could be a way to boost your mood and motivation during a break from work or study. It also furthers the argument that those who work in the creative industry’s jobs are equally as important as those in any other role, as they contribute to society’s mental wellbeing.
If you are struggling to cope with your mental health, please do not hesitate to seek help from a professional. You can begin this process using the links below: