Music in Mind is a music making programme which focuses on enhancing the life chances of young people aged 11-to-18 years with mental health needs. It’s led by Rhythmix, a music, education and social welfare charity that provides music opportunities to people in challenging circumstances across south east England.
The programme gives young people a positive outlet for self-expression, the opportunity to gain vocational skills and helps them to gain the self-belief and skills necessary for them to move forward in life.
It encourages musical, social, personal and educational development; focuses on self-expression and resilience; acknowledges complex needs through tailored programmes; and includes workforce development.
What happened, and what works?
In order to assess the programme’s effectiveness, an independent evaluation was conducted by Dr Alison Daubney and Gregory Daubney MSc between April 2013 and March 2016 – looking at projects in East Sussex, West Sussex, Brighton & Hove, Kent, and Surrey.
During the evaluation many young people spoke about how music was important to them, particularly as a listener. Some discussed their musical preferences and how these related to a strong sense of identity. Some also discussed the importance of music as a mood regulator, including as a mechanism to purposely set or change their mood.
Many of them also saw making music as something to learn and/or develop and not just as something to take part in. They clearly cared about the quality of what they produced, and ‘making music well’ was an important aspect for the young people.
One of the many conclusions of the report is that the importance of music to some young people with mental health needs is significant and should not be ignored or seen as unimportant. For them, music is a perceived lifeline, a fundamental part of who they are, or as was said more than once in the project, “Music, quite literally, is my life”. Not every young person with mental health needs will find that music is the ‘hook’ to help them to seek and accept help, but for some, under the right circumstances, music can help them to take steps towards improved mental health and wellbeing.