Deconstructing The Relationship Between Music And Mental Health

A Brief History of Music – From Emergence to the Present Day

In today’s world, music is interwoven with one’s day-to-day life. No aspect of living is too far from the touch of tune. It is a source of entertainment and education at the same time. Spiritual practices and professional services both utilize it in one form or another. Similar to an aged wine, it has seen the better and worse of evolution and yet music stands as the testament to our age-old united heritage. It continues to rise and evolve with time. We have seen it varying and suiting itself as an art, an aid, a media, and a boon with healing properties and we look forward to seeing it in an even more flourishing future.

On May 27, 2022, Stranger Things returned on Netflix with a new season and a new Upside-Down monster, Vecna. In the final minutes of the fourth episode, Max Mayfield, played by Sadie Sink, is saved in the nick of time from Vecna’s curse by her friends playing her favourite song, “Running Up That Hill” by Kate Bush. The scene quickly gained recognition as one of the best music moments of television history, and the song struck a chord with fans around the world. The show explains that music reaches parts of the human brain that words cannot, and can therefore guide Vecna’s victims back to reality. Stranger Things may be a work of fiction, but music therapy has been around for a long time.

A Brief History of Music – From Emergence to the Present Day

What is music therapy?

It is an evidence-based form of therapy that involves the clinical use of music to overcome mental health hurdles. It was first conceptualized in the 1945, and used by the US military to help veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. However, music therapy has since proven to benefit people from many different backgrounds, such as:

  • People on the Autism spectrum
  • People with Alzheimer’s disease
  • People with Parkinson’s disease
  • People in rehabilitation
  • Victims of trauma
  • People with chronic pain

Perceived benefits of music therapy

Music therapy is popular among individuals with mental health disorders, behavioral disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and substance abuse disorders, as it can ease anxiety, increase self-motivation, help with communication, and strengthen coping skills. For victims of trauma, it serves as a non-verbal outlet for repressed emotions, and can provide a greater sense of control. It is not limited to mental illness, however, as music can ease both the body and the mind. Music can improve sleep cycles, lower blood pressure and rate of breathing, serve as a distraction from pain, and reduce agitation. Therefore, people in chronic pain also seek out music therapy.