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Rhythmix shows making music improves the mental health of young people

Local music charity shows making music improves the mental health of young people

Rhythmix has launched a report that shows how interactive music making improves the mental health of children and young people with severe mental health problems.

More than 850,000 children and young people in the UK have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, equal to one in ten young people aged 5 to 16. The services set to deal with these issues are over-subscribed and under-funded. Music in Mind, which has been funded by Comic Relief, the Amy Winehouse Foundation and Youth Music, shows that music can be a transformative part of treatment. Many participants attributed music making with Rhythmix as a significant positive contributor to their wellbeing during their time in a mental health hospital.

The report found that music was a significant part of recovery. It is described as a “lifeline” by young people with mental health problems, and a fundamental part of who they are. Having the chance to pen their own tracks and hone their practical and creative skills was seen as an integral part of their recovery from mental illness by young people .

Local music charity Rhythmix commissioned an independent evaluation report by Dr Ally Daubney and psychologist Greg Daubney on Rhythmix’s pioneering work. This reported on a programme of work on making music with young people in mental health hospitals, those involved in the Early Intervention in Psychosis (EIS) Service and community-based Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHs).

Tom, aged 15, said: “music is literally the thing that keeps me going”.

Ben, also 15, said: “Music for me can really help with my anxiety, because when I’m playing and singing I don’t feel anxious or paranoid…I’m in a band when I’m not here so it’s really good to be able to play with a music professional and record my stuff when I’m here.”

It also found a need for mental health professionals to be aware of the musical interests of young people when they enter residential mental health treatment. Giving a young person access to an instrument they could play before admission to hospital or that they had an interest in learning was found to be an important catalyst for increased feelings of control, pride and reduced anxiety.

A hallmark of the most successful projects was the strong partnership between the staff in mental health settings and Rhythmix tutors; working together to support young people and their families across a long period of time and through transitions to different clinical settings.

Rivkah Cummerson, Youth Engagement and Participation Manager for CAMHS NHS Sussex Partnership said “Rhythmix provides a unique service to CAMHS by linking us with musicians who are extremely skilled in communicating both their skills and passion for music, whilst containing high levels of anxiety and being able to let young people reach their potential even under difficult circumstances. I am amazed at how relaxing the sessions are even when young people have never played before.”

The report “Music in Mind Evaluation” is available for download from

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