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Healing through Music

Can music heal?

As mental health crisis workers, Richard Tyo and Chris Trimmer support individuals in the Kingston community who are struggling with mental illness. Since there are many people at various stages of recovery, it has often been discussed that a need exists for programs that help facilitate mental health support for hard-to-reach populations, and in a context that operates outside of the traditional mental health system. Being avid musicians, Chris and Rich wondered why music couldn’t be used both as a form of therapy, and as a tool for discussing mental health. After all, who doesn’t have some type of meaningful connection to music? Music brings us together. It’s also the perfect metaphor for life and our struggles.

Since April 2013, Rich and Chris have been running a weekly music group session at a local mental health support drop-in centre. Clients attending the group have reported that positive coping arises from music-based group cohesion. Activities include shaker circles, singing, using song to discuss and reframe positive/negative events, & writing lyrics to discuss coping with, for example, seasonal affective disorder and social isolation. In addition to observable benefits for clients, having Crisis workers associated with musical programming, while still discussing mental health, appears to reduce stigma towards mental health workers in the community.

Rich and Chris are asking the Awesome Foundation for support in bringing the Healing through Music group to the larger Kingston community. There have been numerous requests from various community agencies for bringing the music group to their clients. We would like to expand the weekly group session to also include a weekly roving session - going to various community agencies, such as other mental health facilities, hospital wards, long-term care facilities, in Kingston and the surrounding area.

Funded by Kingston, ON (February 2014)