Music, mental health go hand in hand

Music can serve as an aid for the mental strains that college students may face during their academic careers.

Depression and anxiety are some of the top impediments to academic performance for students, according to an American College Health Association report released in 2011.

Symptoms of mental health issues may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits or social withdrawal, according to the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County.

A creative approach toward comforting individuals who struggle with mental health disorders and symptoms, can be seen in music therapy, said Janice Lindstrom, Clinical Coordinator for Music Therapy at Southern Methodist University.

For students wanting to use music purposefully, creating a playlist that begins with slower music to music that gets progressively faster and more energetic can provide an energy boost, Lindstrom said.

“Music therapy is the process of utilizing music as a tool for accomplishing nonmusical goals,” said Crystal Weaver, senior music therapist for the Saint Louis University Cancer Center, in an email.

Therapy sessions can go from 45 to 60 minutes, and patients have the freedom to choose their favored style and genre of music, Weaver said. The sessions can be active when the patient is creating music with a board-certified therapist or when the patient passively listens.

“Patients do not need to be trained musicians to effectively participate in music therapy sessions,” Weaver said.

The power in music can affect a mood almost instantly, visual communication junior Raylon Johnson said. Music is like a teleportation device that can bring people to a safe haven in their own world, he said.

“Music therapy can address individuals’ issues with stress, anxiety, agitation and depression,” Weaver said. “Music therapy can also be utilized to encourage appropriate expression of emotions and effectively encourage positive coping skills.”

Music therapy can cognitively decrease the feeling of isolation, Weaver said.

Going through depression can lead some to feel no one understands them, English freshman Kathryn Kane said. Kane, who has struggled with depression and anxiety, develops a positive connection with an artist when listening to their music, she said.

“Those artists are really real and honest about what they’re talking about and it just makes human emotions more relatable,” Kane said.

Rapper Marshall “Eminem” Mathers often approaches his experience with depression in his music, which can help listeners relate to the artist, psychology sophomore Brandon Biggs said.

“Some people will stress so much that they tend to get depressed, and depression turns into things like suicide,” Johnson said.

Students should find a way to alleviate stress to prevent it from building up and eventually erupting, Johnson said.

One in every 12 U.S. college students plan a suicide, according to National Data on Campus Suicide and Depression report.

Music therapy should be added to college campuses, because music helps people see the bright side of their situation and is a healthy way of coping with mental health concerns, Biggs said.

Sixty-four percent of young adults who no longer in college are not attending college because of a mental health-related reason, according to a National Alliance on Mental Illness report.

The most frequent diagnoses of mental health issues among young adults include depression, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the report.

“Stress is very unnecessary, but it is very essential to school because it happens,” Johnson said.

Stress and anxiety can be lowered by listening to preferred music at the resting heart rate, such as 66 to 72 beats per minute, Weaver said.

Even melodies can express how you feel when the words do not, Kane said. For anxiety, paying attention to the music rhythm can cause the body to respond in a positive way. Songs with complicated lyrics can take your mind off how you are feeling because you are paying attention to the words, she said.

“The music that the individual prefers to listen to will have the best results,” Weaver said.

Music therapy can aid moods and help individuals in developing social skills, especially those with autism, Weaver said.

Ironically, music can benefit those socially when a song becomes the topic of discussion, Kane said. People can share how they feel about the song with one another.

Messages behind songs can promote confidence, such as “Dig a Little Deeper” from The Princess and The Frog, Johnson said. The song tells people to be confident in who they are and to never give up, he said.

Artist personalities in music are also picked up by listeners such as Chance the Rapper with his optimistic spirit, Biggs said.

Music unites people in just being human and dealing with struggles whether or not they have mental health concerns, Kane said.


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