Supporting Children’s Mental Health Week

nordoff robbins Chief Executive, Julie Whelan, writes on our support of Children’s Mental Health Week:

We are delighted to support Children’s Mental Health Week, running this 5 – 11 February, to raise awareness of children and young people’s mental health and emotional wellbeing. At Nordoff Robbins everything we do is about people and music, and we are passionate about using our music therapy to help children and young people across the UK.

Organised by leading children’s mental health charity Place2Be, this week calls for people to come together and encourage children, young people and adults to celebrate their uniqueness. Their campaign hashtag highlights the importance of #BeingOurselves – a sentiment shared by all of us at Nordoff Robbins, where our music-centred approach supports, and focuses on, the unique individuality of our beneficiaries.

We know the value of our music therapy to those living with mental health issues – whatever their age. But, we also understand how particularly difficult it can be for children and young people who are still growing, and on the important journey of self-discovery and identity. Experiencing a mental health issue can be very isolating and can affect a young person’s personality, and their ability to communicate and interact – but through music, our therapists are able to help students build their self-esteem, build their confidence, and establish meaningful connections.

At Nordoff Robbins, we’re passionate about the benefits music therapy can have for mental health and wellbeing, and we’re demonstrating this though adding to current research on music therapy in schools and educational settings. Our existing research, where we spoke to pupils, staff and family members, shows very encouraging results – with 87% saying music therapy had a positive impact on their quality of life and wellbeing, and 91% saying music therapy had boosted their interaction and communication. As an organisation we are committed to ongoing research, and in January of this year launched further study into the benefits of music therapy for both mainstream and special education needs schools. 

In November 2017, Nordoff Robbins took the further step of highlighting the importance of the power of music for mental health, by holding a parliamentary roundtable supported by the BPI. Together, we explored how mental health issues can be very isolating, but how music and music therapy can have a positive impact, alleviating associated issues such as anxiety and lack of social interaction. We also addressed the issue of the increasingly complex state of health and care commissioning, how this will be a potential challenge for music therapy provision – and what broader personal, cultural and social dimensions could be made available to support mental health and wellbeing.

We came away with a strong sense that more needs to be done to raise awareness of the benefits of music therapy, to ensure that it can be properly funded, especially in education settings. Research is crucial in building this case, so that we can evidence the power of music in a mental health context and influence commissioners and policy-makers – and that is where we will be placing real emphasis. Later this summer we will be publishing our very first policy paper outlining our position on this important issue. 

As a charity, we have a voice, and we want to share ours for those who don’t. In the spirit of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, by #BeingOurselves we can do our very best to safeguard the future of music therapy provision for years to come – and we are so excited to be on that journey with the support of the BPI.