Using music to combat mental illness in Melbourne's west

December 16 / 189

The use of music therapy to combat mental illness is changing the lives of young people in Melbourne's west.

The Young Warriors program, led by Dr Cherry Hense from the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music (MCM), in association with the national youth mental health foundation Headspace, targets young people experiencing mental health issues.

With the help of a music therapist and a music mentor from the Australian Music Association, the ‘Young Warriors’ group holds weekly sessions with participants who write songs, play covers and build improvisational skills. 

The program was so popular that requests were made to Headspace to make it a permanent resource in its centres.

According to Dr Hense, music therapy makes it easier for people to engage with mental health issues. 

“This is a really important time for identifying and addressing emerging mental health issues,” she said.

“Music is such an important part of young people’s lives and music therapy provides an engaging way for young people to address mental health problems as well as build strengths and resources.”

Dr Hense is also bringing in an individual intervention to help young people with mental health problems. Developed by Professor Katrina Skewes-McFerran from the MCM, the Healthy-Unhealthy Uses of Music (HUMS) approach is designed to develop an insight into the relationship between music and mental health, where young people develop strategies for using music to effectively manage their mood and wellbeing.

Individual and group therapy sessions have commenced in Glenroy, Sunshine and Werribee.

This project is supported by the University of Melbourne's Engagement Grants program.

Story by Eisha Gupta.

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