The Healing Harmony of Music: Enhancing Children's Mental Health

By
Kerry Hearsey
July 1, 2024
6
 min read
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The Healing Harmony of Music: Enhancing Children's Mental Health

Music has an extraordinary ability to touch the soul, evoke emotions, and create connections. In the realm of children's mental health, music therapy emerges as a powerful intervention that harnesses the transformative power of music to promote emotional well-being, enhance communication, and facilitate healing. This blog explores the profound impact of music on children's mental health, drawing on research and evidence from the field of music therapy and developmental psychology.

The Therapeutic Potential of Music: Music therapy, a specialised form of therapy that uses music as a therapeutic tool to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs, has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of mental health concerns in children and young adults (Gold et al., 2004). Research indicates that music therapy can reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression, trauma, and behavioural disorders, while also improving mood, self-esteem, and overall quality of life (Geretsegger et al., 2017).

Music therapy interventions may include listening to music, playing musical instruments, singing, songwriting, improvisation, and movement to music. These activities provide children with opportunities for self-expression, emotional release, and creative exploration in a safe and supportive environment (Silverman, 2008). Through music, children can express feelings that are difficult to verbalize, process traumatic experiences, and develop coping skills to manage their emotions effectively.

Moreover, music therapy promotes relaxation and stress reduction by engaging the autonomic nervous system and promoting physiological changes, such as reduced heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension (Chanda & Levitin, 2013). By listening to calming music or engaging in rhythmic activities, children can experience a sense of calmness and inner peace, alleviating symptoms of psychological distress.

The Role of Music in Enhancing Social Connection: Music also plays a vital role in fostering social connection and interpersonal relationships among children. Group music-making activities, such as singing in a choir or playing in a band, promote collaboration, cooperation, and communication skills, as children learn to listen to each other, synchronise their actions, and work towards a common goal (Koelsch, 2014). Music-making provides a shared experience that brings people together, regardless of their backgrounds or differences, fostering a sense of belonging and community among participants.

Furthermore, music can serve as a bridge for communication and emotional expression, particularly for children who struggle with verbal communication or social interaction. Through music, children can convey their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a non-threatening and non-judgmental way, facilitating connection and understanding with others (Wigram et al., 2002).

The Empowering Potential of Music: Beyond its immediate therapeutic benefits, music has the power to empower children, build resilience, and cultivate a sense of agency and self-efficacy. Learning to play a musical instrument or mastering a new song provides children with a sense of accomplishment and pride, boosting their self-esteem and confidence (MacDonald et al., 2012). Moreover, music-making encourages creativity, problem-solving, and emotional expression, fostering adaptive coping strategies that children can apply to other areas of their lives.

Music serves as a powerful medium for promoting children's mental health and well-being. Through music therapy interventions, children can experience emotional healing, relaxation, and social connection in a supportive and nurturing environment. By recognising the transformative potential of music and integrating music-based interventions into mental health care settings, we can empower children to express themselves authentically, develop healthy coping skills, and thrive emotionally and socially.

References:

  • Gold, C., Voracek, M., & Wigram, T. (2004). Effects of music therapy for children and adolescents with psychopathology: A meta-analysis. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45(6), 1054-1063.
  • Geretsegger, M., Mössler, K. A., Bieleninik, Ł., Chen, X. J., Heldal, T. O., Gold, C., & Assmus, J. (2017). Music therapy for people with autism spectrum disorder. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (6).
  • Silverman, M. J. (2008). The Handbook of Music Therapy. Routledge.
  • Chanda, M. L., & Levitin, D. J. (2013). The neurochemistry of music. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(4), 179-193.
  • Koelsch, S. (2014). Brain correlates of music-evoked emotions. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(3), 170-180.
  • Wigram, T., Pedersen, I. N., & Bonde, L. O. (2002). A comprehensive guide to music therapy: Theory, clinical practice, research, and training. Jessica Kingsley Publishers.
  • MacDonald, R. A., Kreutz, G., & Mitchell, L. (2012). Music, health, and well-being: A review. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 7(1), 1-12.

Kerry Hearsey