We observe Mental Health Awareness Month in May (read our article about Mindfulness). Annually, 10 October is recognised as World Mental Health Day by the World Health Organisation (WHO). October is also the month we focus on mental health education and depression awareness. The main objective of observing World Mental Health Day is to (1) raise awareness on mental health issues by starting conversations, and (2) mobilise effort in support of mental health by recognising what more needs to be done to make mental health care a reality for people worldwide.
Mental health issues hit some people harder than others, and no one is completely insusceptible, even world-famous musicians. Some of the classical composers we are familiar with, such as Beethoven, Robert Schumann, Tchaikovsky, and Sergei Rachmaninov, to name a few, have lived with depression, and sometimes suffered from severe episodes. In her article, Anya Wassenberg shares that musicians face the paradox of reporting the highest job satisfaction but is one of the top five professions likely to report having mental illnesses. Anya talked with Toronto composer and pianist, Frank Horvat, who says that classical musicians have a unique burden: strict adherence to a centuries-old tradition without care or concern for the mental health of its practitioners. Contrary to previous eras where having mental health issues were felt like something to be ashamed of and shunned because of, recently, our collective understanding of the deep connections between physical and mental health, and music, has improved considerably, says Anya.
Brett Yang and Eddy Chen, of TwoSet Violin, are Australian violinists who first went viral on YouTube with their funny and “sometimes painfully accurate” videos depicting life as a classical musician. Similar to Singapore’s The Teng Ensemble (read our interview with them here), TwoSet Violin’s dream is to bring classical music to more people, by making classical musical relevant to the modern generation through fun, humour, and simplicity. In this video, they honestly and openly shared about their own experiences as classical musicians who have experienced mental health issues.
Our bodies and minds are intertwined; our physical health is impacted by our mental health, and vice versa. Our mental health is most impacted by our relationships, moods, thoughts, behaviours, physical health, and faith-based practices, explains Dr. Forrest Talley, Ph.D., founder of Invictus Psychological Services. To live our happiest, healthiest lives, we need to regularly check-in with our minds and our emotional well-being. In this article, Dominique Michelle Astorino chats with Dr Talley for 6 ways to check-in on your mental health in 10 minutes or less:
- Check on your relationships, and evaluate how your relationships are impacting your current state
- Grade your mood, so you can plan for what to do about it
- Visit your thoughts, and refocus on the positive
- Take inventory of your habits and behaviours, to ensure your habits and behaviours are aligned with your goals
- Review your physical health, because poor physical health can lead to poor mental health (vice versa)
- Connect with your spiritual side, as faith and spirituality play major roles in mental and emotional well-being
Your mental health matters, so supporting your overall health ensures that your mind has the best capability of managing difficult periods.
Numerous research and studies have continually proved music to be beneficial for health to some extent. Music can be used as health promotion, and even as prescribed treatment in the form of Music Therapy.
I like listening to music because it makes me feel less lonely. What I like to do is to create music playlists for my different moods; I have playlists I listen to for when I feel sad, when I need inspiration (Not Safe For Kids!), when I need company while writing, and even when I need to sing out loud to feel better!
Listening to and/or creating music can have positive effects on mood and mental health. Australia’s online mental health service ReachOut.com shares the ways you can use music for mental health, and incorporate them in your daily life:
- * Music that has a tempo of 60 beats per minute (such as classical music) increases the efficiency of brain processing. Playing it softly in the background while you do your tasks can help you to focus.
- * Creating your own music is a form of expression that helps you process your emotions and bring to awareness how it makes you feel.
- * Listening to and/or making music allows for creativity to happen in your brain!
- * Music supports social connection, and music connects people, so you do not feel lonely
- * Music aids relaxation, but remember to choose the right music!
- * Blast your favourite tunes to use as motivation to get you started on tasks!
There is no one playlist that fits everyone—I may feel better listening to jazz, while you may feel better listening to rock. Try different types of music to see what works best for you.
What is more important is the right music for YOU to feel better.
Want to allow music to become a useful part of your life?
If you have not already started on your musical journey, let Bloom School of Music & Arts help you! We are proud to be one of the few schools offering the acclaimed Early Childhood music programme Musikgarten, after which you can continue with Tutti, and move on to individual instrumental programmes including piano, drum, violin, guitar, and ukulele.
Fill up our Online Enquiry Form to find out more about our courses and schedules, and register for your free assessment!
If music really does not cut it for you, you can also try other coping strategies such as exercise, or journalling. The ArtScience Museum has curated a list of hands-on activities which you can do in the comfort of your own home, that will help you find serenity, and allow you to be at peace with yourself.
I would like to end off this post with this reminder that YOU MATTER.
When you feel like you need help, remember that you are not alone, and reach out. The Tapestry Project SG has compiled this list of helplines and support services in Singapore that you can access.
Share your story, so that one day, your story will help someone else in need.