Why music is great for mental health

Meet Jack*. He is a passionate about music and enjoys contemporary urban, hip-hop and rap. For the last 12 months, Jack has regularly attended music sessions with Tom, one of our Arts@StAndrew’s music co-ordinators.

Within his sessions, Jack – who is cared for within our Leaning Disability service – has been able to engage in a variety of musical activities, and has developed a large body of work which he intends to build on once he leaves St Andrew’s Healthcare.

In the future, Jack hopes to make music his occupation.

“When Jack first attended the music studios, his interest was purely in recording his personal rap performances using pre-made backing tracks,” Tom explained. “However having had exposure to creative music software, Jack soon started making his own music – which he’d later perform and send to the Koestler awards.”

Although Jack received no formal training in either the operation of the software or music theory, with Tom’s guidance and support his independence and the creative composition of his music greatly increased.

Creating original musical material has been at the heart of Jack’s musical engagement. 

“Every project has begun with a clear expression of ideas or concept, and in turn Jack’s growing technical skills and knowledge have appeared to only expand his creative scope.

"As his familiarity with the studio has grown, his projects have become more complex and sophisticated, and he now demonstrates a unique musical voice which retains a connection to contemporary modern music.”

Jack’s lyrics often detail personal experience, which indicates an opportunity for creative expression and therapeutic value beyond the immediacy of the activity. His lyrics demonstrate the growing trend for autobiographical themes, and he often draws on his past experiences and culture for inspiration.

“Jack’s musical choices sometimes include artists from his local community, and he has created DJ mixes imitating pirate radio,” added Tom.

The benefits of these music sessions are numerous, and range from increasing interpersonal skills to literacy skills.

Tom explained: “Jack has always displayed a realistic outlook of his skills and potential for success, and he has begun to engage in self-reflection and critique.

"Beyond this, the technical skills that Jack has gained from the music sessions have not been limited to the sphere of music production; his regular use of computers has provided him with the opportunity to hone his understanding of their operation, as well as the dexterity and fine motor control of operating a mouse and keyboard.”

Jack clearly demonstrates the skills and necessary violation- as well as the confidence – to continue making music in the future. “I believe that our sessions have provided a foundation for life-long engagement with music,” explained Tom.

For more information about the arts programme delivered by our Arts team, please click here or email arts@standrew.co.uk.

Arts@StAndrew’s

The Arts team is made up of skilled creative specialists who engage with individuals and groups, both on wards and in our fully equipped studio settings to support patients achieving their creative and therapeutic goals.

We work closely with healthcare professions to ensure our service meets the patient need; delivering holistic and tailored opportunities across a range of art forms through a programme of regular sessions, projects and events.

We believe the Arts make a difference by supplementing medicine and care to support people to lead full and active lives in society.