With society emerging from the COVID 19 pandemic, the focus on mental health and well being has increased as people are forced to confront the effects of isolation, grief, health challenges and coping with the stress of post-pandemic realities, such as high prices, remote work and job loss, uncertain future within a constantly changing world. May is Mental Health Awareness Month and the 2023 theme is “More Than Enough.”
Mental Illness — What is it?
A mental illness is a physical illness of the brain that causes disturbances in thinking, behavior, energy or emotion that make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life.
Each year, more than 18% of adults struggle with some type of anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (panic attacks), generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias. Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar depression, affect nearly 10% of adults each year and are characterized by difficulties in regulating one’s mood.
Listening to music, playing an instrument or even playing it in the background to fill the atmosphere can be helpful in managing these disorders. A study was done three years ago conducted by the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH) to examine how music influences brain health. Launched in 2015, the GCBH is an independent collaborative of scientists, clinicians, scholars and policy experts convened by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) to provide the foremost thinking on what people and professionals can do to maintain and improve brain health.
In the report, the GCBH experts concluded that listening and making music holds significant potential to support brain health as people age. According to the report, music stimulates the brain center, can enhance immunity, and regulate neurochemicals that help people cope with stress.
AARP also conducted a survey which found that adults who engage in music making and listening are more likely to self-report their overall health, brain health, and cognitive function as excellent or very good. The survey also found that adults who engage in music report lower average levels of anxiety and depression. So, incorporate more music in your life. Play, listen and dance to it. Attend more concerts and festivals to experience music presented in a live setting. Most importantly, enjoy the positive thoughts and feelings the music brings to you. Read more on the AARP report and survey here.