How does Music Affect Mental Health? Harmonizing Minds and Enhancing Well-being
Music has always been a gateway for people to express themselves and get away from reality. Or, as I would say, a fresh breath of clean air. Music was always there for me when nobody else was. It helps ease my anxiety and depression. Studies have shown that music can help treat mental illnesses. Not only does music help on a personal level, but it also helps in society as well.
The Role of Music in Mental Health Treatment
Studies show music is a potent treatment for mental health. There are one in four adults who suffer from a mental illness in the U.S. in a given year. Yet only 40 percent actually go get treatment. Apparently, mental health issues cost 2.5 trillion dollars annually in health care costs, loss of functioning, and loss of life. But yet, 60 percent of people with illnesses get no treatment, and that’s a lot of money just for 40 percent. So, that’s where the alternative and complementary treatments come into play to try and close that huge gap. Creative art, yoga, and meditation are things that were said to help. But with music being so important in our society as well as its ease of transmission is perhaps the greatest choice among the alternative therapies to reach people who otherwise can’t get treatment.
How it works
Physical and Psychological Benefits of Music
Music therapy has been demonstrated enough to the point where it can be considered an independent treatment for reducing depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Firstly, music has been shown to have positive physical effects, such as reducing heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. Also, studies suggest that exposure to prosocial lyrics increases positive thought, empathy, and helping behavior. The message of a positive song may be able to reach more people than all of the psychotherapists in the whole world combined.
Music’s Societal Impact
Music not only helps on a personal level, it also helps in society as a whole. Musicians like Pete Seeger showed us that music could help influence change in the world. His combination of incredibly catchy melodies and thoughtful, socially conscious lyrics in songs such as “We Shall Overcome,” “This Land is Your Land,” “If I Had a Hammer,” and “Turn, Turn, Turn” were a powerful influence on national movements, including the fight for civil rights, world peace, and environmental protection. This even dates back to slavery times when slaves would sing “Negro Spirituals” through bad times to lift their moods and other slaves’ moods as well. In conclusion, music has been proven by studies to help individuals with mental illnesses and society as a whole.
- Levitin, D.J. (2006). This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession. Dutton.
- Thoma, M.V., La Marca, R., Brönnimann, R., Finkel, L., Ehlert, U., & Nater, U.M. (2013). The effect of music on the human stress response. PLOS ONE, 8(8), e70156.