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Music-making projects supporting young people's mental health

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Today is Youth Mental Health Day, an awareness day encouraging understanding and discussion of mental health in young people. We know the current coronavirus crisis is having a negative impact on everyone's mental health in some way, even more so for young people already facing challenges. Charity Stem4 point out that "even before the COVID-19 crisis, one in six young people aged 5-16-year olds had a mental disorder."

Many of the grassroots organisations we invest in have said that creative music-making has a positive impact on young people’s mental health – with outcomes including greater self-expression, reduced anxiety and better social connectedness with others. We've rounded up a few of them below. 

Thanks to the National Lottery via Arts Council England, players of People's Postcode Lottery and support from partners, fundraisers and donors that make our work possible.

My pockets

My Pockets recently worked with young people who are supported by Hull and East Yorkshire Mind to create a song about their lives and experiences. Two young people who took part in the project shared how it helped them, 

"My Pockets showed me that I could trust them. They didn’t judge me. The tone of their voices was not aggressive, it was calming. It was friendly. We got to know each other, we talked about our interests, our taste in music, our relationships, we listened to them too. It was two way. It kept me engaged. They are understanding. School can be really pressured. Even the teachers feel pressured. They are worried about everyone getting good grades and don’t have time to think about peoples feelings. It’s nothing but pressure."

"Since football has been gone during Covid it has given me something productive to do, otherwise I’d be laid in bed, and it’s not healthy. It’s been good to see faces that are not in my house, it’s refreshing, it’s something to look forward to in the week."

Babigloo - online early years videos

Throughout the pandemic, Babigloo have been providing lots of great online content for babies and their parents. They said “we knew that it was going to be very difficult for families living in isolation. Imagine an 8 month, 3 years old and 5 year old combination, in a small flat.” Creating a moment of space for parents, while their children can be entertained in an interactive way during lockdown is important and they’ve had some great feedback. 

“I am front line NHS so work 3 days a week and watch it with Bee on catch up and Babigloo know this and kindly still mention our names. Such a lovely personal touch in a busy world. So please we are able to do this.”

Supporting good mental health should start from birth and if parents are able to use resources like this to help them unwind with their children, it can only be a good thing. 

Lewisham Music - Sonic Minds

This two-year programme supports hundreds of young people at elevated risk of experiencing poor mental health. Through collaborative songwriting and music production our team of Music Leaders  work with young people to share their stories, celebrate their identity and express themselves through music.

‘Sonic Minds’  builds on Lewisham Music's unique child-centred and youth-led practice to provide a safe space for young people to explore difficult feelings.

“Music is how I express myself and share my emotions” - Tyrique Gabbidon, age 13.

Audioactive - Rap to Unmute

AudioActive, based in Brighton, have been running a project called Room to Rant, an ‘alternative support group’ for vulnerable young men to come and express themselves through talking, writing, rapping and freestyling to process what they are going through. Sessions are led by Jon Clark (MC and artist practitioner) and local freestyle legend MC Gramski with the help of a YMCA Mental Health professional who supports with safeguarding and one to one support.

Jon shared that doing the sessions virtually is likely to be helping “socially anxious people in our communities…become more included.”

Participants are from a range of backgrounds and many don’t have a permanent address, with one commenting that “Room to Rant has really come at the best time. When I was at my worst it helped me pick myself up, helped me confront my mental health, using music and rapping to vent and get out how I’m feeling…they create a happy place for me and others to express ourselves and feel safe.” 

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