In most of my music therapy groups this week I dedicated time away from engaging in music but rather to engage in conversations around music and mental health since May is mental health awareness month. I know some of you just gasped and thought, how dare a music therapist do a session without engaging in music ! Well, I did and it was quite powerful!
In most of the sessions the clients were engaged in some deep and emotional discussions around music in our culture and artists that have contributed a great deal to our music as art; many from their own experiences with mental health challenges.
Artists names such as Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Britney Spears, and so many others came to surface. Clients shared that these artists music has touched their lives in so many ways over the years of their personal struggles with mental health issues. Some have expressed, “It was the only thing that got me through” while others expressed “It was a relief to know that I was not alone”.
Client's have described these songs as being a "source of strength in times of adversity". I encouraged the clients to share songs from artists who gave them words of encouragement that in turn were also dealing with similar mental health challenges.
Music in all forms has been therapeutic for centuries and I want to highlight that even though many of these artists songs are therapeutic I want to honor and thank them that they had the courage to step into vulnerability and share their hurt and challenges through words and song with us. These artists shared personal stories in their songs that continue to support, validate and help many of the clients that I work with in our music therapy groups.
This month let's recognize that much of the music we listen to on a daily basis very likely has been a form of music therapy for the individual artists themselves. Its been a way for them to share their story, their pain and help support others along their journey. That's the beauty in music and creativity -- it can often come from pain but then transform into something beautiful and powerful, similar to the Eminem song, “Beautiful Pain”.
I encourage you to share your story, share your song, share your art and help others find comfort and peace and normalize that mental health issues are real and we can shed some light in the darkness.
Find a list of songs below that clients have chosen in music therapy groups throughout the month that were created and performed from artists that too have struggled with mental illness. This is just a small representation of the many artists out there that struggle and have used their voices and creativity as an outlet, a way to help heal others and help empower their listeners from not feeling alone in their experiences with mental health challenges. (click on song titles to view the video)
Britney Spears - Stronger
Eminem - The Monster
Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Natalie Grant - The Real Me
Demi Lovato - Skyscraper
Alessia Cara - Scars to Your Beautiful
Macklemore - Otherside
Lady Gaga - Perfect Illusion
Rachel Platten - Fight Song
Justin Bieber - Love Yourself
Do you have other songs that you could add to this list? If so, I would love to hear from you. Please leave a link to the video or artist below in the comment section. Thank you. #musicandmentalhealth
Let's Stay in Touch