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Music Therapy for Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

This year, Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK is from 13th-19th May 2019. Mental health includes diagnosable conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder but also conditions which may not need a diagnosis such as stress, anxiety and depression.

Some sample statistics from the Mental Health Foundation make for sobering reading:

  • Mixed anxiety & depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain, with 7.8% of people meeting criteria for diagnosis.

  • 4-10% of people in England will experience depression in their lifetime.

  • Common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety are distributed according to a gradient of economic disadvantage across society. The poorer and more disadvantaged are disproprotionately affected by common mental health problems and their adverse consequences.

  • Mixed anxiety and depression has been estimated to cause one fifth of days lost from work in Britain.

  • One adult in six had a common mental disorder.

What’s more, treatment can sometimes be hard to come by.

A participant in the BBC’s latest series on mental health (which is well worth a watch) has been on a waiting list for NHS-funded CBT for 14 months. The NHS does a wonderful job in providing excellent mental health services, but years of austerity cuts from successive governments means well-meaning services aren’t equipped to deal with the level of demand that's desperately needed. This is where the creative arts therapies can surely help.

The Cochrane Review for music therapy and depression was able to draw the following conclusions from the studies included:

Music therapy provides short‐term beneficial effects for people with depression. Music therapy added to treatment as usual (TAU) seems to improve depressive symptoms compared with TAU alone. Additionally, music therapy plus TAU is not associated with more or fewer adverse events than TAU alone. Music therapy also shows efficacy in decreasing anxiety levels and improving functioning of depressed individuals.

This is a great initial finding demonstrating the efficacy of music therapy. Hopefully further studies will corroborate the first results even more conclusively.

Soon, North London Music Therapy will be releasing its first video demonstrating how music therapy works. We specialise in working with people of all ages with stress, anxiety and depression - however it manifests, and whether it comes with a diagnosis or not. During sessions you, the patient, are in charge and lead the session, however you’d like to play (and you don’t have to be able to play the instruments - see here for Music Therapy FAQs). It’s your therapist’s job to listen to what you’re doing and respond, by playing music or by talking, in a way that is helpful and makes sense to you and your thoughts.

Stay tuned for NLMT’s new video. In the meantime, find out more about how music therapy works here.

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