Music and mental health: A dive into how music effects our mental health

Music has a profound impact on mental health and Lizi takes a look at how this happens and highlights some of her personal go-tos.

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week and in my day job I was writing a lot about the week and various events and fundraisers that were taking place.

It got me thinking of just how much music influences mental health, as well as the meme of Lilo in Lilo and Stitch where she’s led on the floor with a gramophone. I used to laugh a lot at that as a child but now I find I relate to it as (minus the gramophone) it’s usually how I am when I’m listening to music.

There are a range of ways that music helps people with their mental health and this relates to both the listener and the artist.

For artists, writing music can help to put their feelings on paper, providing a cathartic release from the multitude of emotions and helping to put thoughts into words. A well-known example of this is Mike Shinoda’s Post Traumatic which was written following the death of close friend and Linkin Park bandmate Chester Bennington, who was another that used his lyrics as a channel for emotions. Over the years, many more musicians have explained how writing helps them with their own mental health.

For the listener, the profound impact of music varies from person to person. It can provide ways to understand various life events, which I personally experienced when in university and I heard Ed Sheeran’s Afire Love for the first time. The song talks about being a young person and experiencing a family member – in his case, his grandfather – going through Alzheimer’s disease. When listening to the song, it helped me to understand what I went through as a child when my nan had the disease. At the time I didn’t understand what was going on but the song helped me to process those feelings I had as a child and had helped me deal with the memories I had as a child and the regrets I had growing up as I learnt more about the condition.

Music also has a habit of being the perfect way to describe emotions and provide comfort to the listener in various moods. This can tie in well with the effect it can have on the artists themselves putting pen to paper and writing songs to express their feelings. The listener can interpret the songs to tie in with their own thoughts, feelings and emotions, to help provide an understanding.

The actual impact music can have on mental health can be forgotten, but it is always present, particularly in the songs we turn to when we’re feeling a range of emotions. For example, if I’m in a good mood, I tend to turn towards a pop punk, alternative rock or classic sound like The Faim and Simple Plan as the tracks tend to be upbeat in their sound. But if I’m angry or sad, it will be a range between heavier sounds but particularly artists that also go for heartfelt ballads, with go-tos including the likes of The Amity Affliction, Motionless In White, Casey and Caskets, where I tune in more to the lyrics.

What are your go to songs or artists when you’re feeling down? Or what ones maintain your positive mood? Let us know in the comments.

Elizabeth Birt

May 23, 2024

Band management assistant. Goth princess and lover of all things music and sport.


View all author posts