By David Kavanagh
A number of initiatives running during this year’s Mental Health Week are using music as a tool to raise awareness about mental health issues in young people.
One of those is Music Feedback, a project run by the Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia.
With the aim to dispel stigmas about mental health in today’s young people, Music Feedback runs live music events, CD and DVD releases and a YouTube channel featuring discussions with popular artists.
YACWA CEO Craig Comrie says music is a great medium for having open conversations with young people because the bands they listen to openly talk about mental health.
“[Music Feedback] is about helping young people feel comfortable in seeking help and making sure that [they] know it’s quite normal to experience mental health issues,” he said.
“It’s not something they should feel ashamed of.”
According to the WA Mental Health Commission, 75% of severe mental illnesses start before the age of 25, while by the age of 21, just over half of all young people will have experienced a diagnosable psychiatric disorder.
“If we can get young people help when they’re young, we can also reduce the likelihood of them having ongoing mental health issues for the rest of their lives,” Mr Comrie said.
Murdoch University student Lara Johnsen, 18, was diagnosed with depression in 2013.
She has since used music, particularly from her favourite band Twenty One Pilots, to help her through the worst of it.
“No one talks about mental health issues that much, they just sort of shove it under the carpet and say let’s all pretend it doesn’t exist,” Ms Johnsen said.
“A lot of the music I listen to is from people who have gone through the same things and written songs about it, making you feel like they totally get what you’re going through.”
Mental Health Week will conclude on Sunday October 10.
If you or someone you know needs help, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.