Music and Mental Health: A Powerful Force For Social Change

Posted by Up with People on May 3, 2018

Music is, has been, and always will be a powerful social change agent. Music has long been used by movements seeking social change because it speaks to everyone. It’s the universal language that can inspire and be the voice that gets through even the thickest of walls. When problem solvers get together, music often plays a role in their strategic solutions. Music has the ability to expand our horizons and open our minds to new ideas.

May marks Mental Health Awareness Month in the United States. The purpose of this social movement is to raise awareness and educate the public about mental illness and mental health. Additionally, Mental Health Awareness Month strives to reduce the negative attitudes and misconceptions that surround mental illness.

Up with People believes music has a role to play in addressing these often times under-discussed mental health issues. Roller Coaster (Won’t Let You Go) is a song featured in Up with People’s current production and addresses the issue of mental health with lyrics like:

Sometimes I feel lonely in a crowd
Sometimes I stay silent though my mind is calling out
Sometimes I feel so up I am sky high
Then I plummet down below ground, I get lost inside

Listen to the full song here.

Up with People isn’t the only non-profit that believes in the power of music to affect social change. To Write Love On Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide and provide valuable resources for those struggling with mental health issues. One of those powerful tools in this mission is music.

TWLOHA Music and Events Coordinator Chad Moses explains:

“Ever since To Write Love on Her Arms began 12 years ago, music has been central to our message and growth. This really wasn’t a calculated decision or a result of marketing focus groups, it just felt simple. The hope has always been to meet people where they naturally come together, and it turns out that music provides an incredible common ground. Think for a moment about your favorite artist, or album, or song. It is likely your favorite because you relate to it on some level, because at some point of interacting with that musician or song you feel heard, or seen, or less alone. Music reminds us that there are things in life worth singing about, worth screaming about, worth dancing about, and worth sharing with other people. That last bit is what is most important. Your life, like your favorite song, deserves an audience – deserves other people. We would encourage a continuation of that sharing. Depression, addiction, self-injury, suicide, anxiety, and eating disorders have a way of convincing us that we have waived our right to interpersonal connection; but Music can serve as a counterpoint. We encourage people to lean into music to be reminded that dissonance can be resolved, and that there is beauty in a change of tempo. Music reminds us that Rests are important. Music, like your life, increases in value when it is shared, when there are more ears to receive it and more perspectives for you to take in that will only make you appreciate the tune more. If it is true about melodies, then it can also be true about your existence.”

Music has the very real power to change individual emotions and the world. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues it’s important to know that you are not alone and that there is help available. Chad recommends seeking help today:

“We don’t always get to choose all the details of the stories that we are living, but we do have a certain amount of say-so in who and how we share these stories. Simply put, not now or ever have you been expected to figure things out all by yourself. Whether you are navigating heartache or addiction or questions of survival, there is hope and there is help. We have seen this play out countless times over the years, where people in a moment of pain have sent an email or a text or called a crisis line and were reminded there are options. We get to see people year after year at events and festivals continue their stories. They often share their journeys with counseling and therapy and support groups. And virtually without fail, they say how other people have helped them towards recovery and help. If you or someone you love is looking for help, please visit twloha.com/findhelp for a growing list of options on where you can start that search. If you have questions, feel free to send an email to info@twloha.com and if you need immediate help we would recommend texting “TWLOHA” to 741741 to connect with our friends at Crisis Text Line.”

It’s important for people to realize the simple act of discussing feelings and sharing experiences with others can be life changing. The more you connect, the more you can feel supported and realize you truly are not alone.

On this roller coaster life you live
When you got nothing left to give
You are never alone
We won’t let you go

Roller Coaster (Won’t Let You Go), © 2018 Up with People

Questions? Click Here To Contact Up with People.


Topics: Music That Matters, Music and Performance

Up with People is a global education organization which aims to bring the world together through service and music. The unique combination of international travel, service learning, leadership development and performing arts offers young adults an unparalleled study abroad experience and a pathway to make a difference in the world, one community at a time. Click here to learn more about the internationally acclaimed program, Up with People.

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