Mind the Music Plus
Community Music gains further Youth Music funding for its groundbreaking mental health project.
Mind the Music is a project targeting young people with diagnosable mental health challenges run by Community Music London since 2018.
It evolved due to awareness by CM staff of a significant increase in mental health issues arising from their accredited training courses, particularly the Foundation Degree in Creative Music Production and Business, which CM delivers in partnership with the University of Westminster.
Due to the access philosophy of CM’s degree, which includes no-qualification application requirements and encouragement of neuro-diverse applicants, the level of mental health issues is generally higher than on a typical degree and requires specific and skilled support to ensure students succeed and progress. CM has always provided this support with one-to-one support and referrals to professional treatment where necessary. However, the need was clearly becoming more intense, and the decision was made to create a stand-alone mental health support project that included existing CM students and also reached out to young people in CAMHS centres.
The statistics are stark and alarming:
- 1 in 6 young people aged 16-24 has symptoms of a common mental disorder such as depression or an anxiety disorder
- Less than 1 in 3 children and young people with a diagnosable mental health condition get access to NHS care and treatment.
- In 2017, suicide was the most common cause of death for both boys (16.2% of all deaths) and girls (13.3%) aged between 5 and 19.
Young Minds Mental Health statistics 2019.
A grant from Youth Music in 2018 enabled the project to begin work in CAMHS centres and deliver a 6-month intensive training programme for music leaders open to other arts organisations.
In 2018/19 the project worked with referrals from 2 CAMHS centres, self-referrals and those in a residential ward in Newham with extreme mental health challenges including psychosis, eating disorders, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. A total of 68 young people participated with 246 sessions including group and one-to-one. The project continued to grow in 2019/20 with funding from Children in Need and others.
Mind the Music succeeded in demonstrating a strong demand for creative music activity in CAMHS centres and spotlighting the beneficial effects of creative participation for the individuals taking part. It also highlighted the intense pressure the centre staff are under and the general inadequacy of staffing levels in the centres. Given this pressure the quality of collaboration from the partners was exemplary and this issue is being mitigated by progressing participants to CM's centre as soon as possible and giving as much support to staff as possible.
Youth Music has awarded a further two-year grant to continue the project and roll it out to Kensington and East Sussex. An independent evaluation from the University of Essex has been commissioned that will evaluate the positive effects of creative music-making on young people with mental health issues and how well it can be delivered in partnership with CAMHS.
CM is currently negotiating a partnership with Kooth.com, a free and confidential online counselling service for young people providing professional counselling and online community support. They currently have over 100,000 users per annum.
This will be a huge breakthrough for the project as it potentially becomes a preventative as well as curative service, and creates a strong impact strategy for the future. It also means the project can reach far more clients online than possible through physical outreach work.
The service is currently online with Youth Music’s support through VIP Sessions and a recent patient from one of the centres has already won Track of the Month at VIP Sessions.
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