To conclude our 5 Mental Health Awareness Week blogs, today we explain more about our Mind the Music programme, and how we are bringing music to mental health settings.

Community Music has been delivering music sessions for over 30 years. Our courses vary from after-school band development workshops, to courses in becoming a music leader, instrumental tuition and a Foundation Degree in Creative Music Production and Business.
We aim to provide easy to access and a welcoming space for people of all backgrounds to develop their passion for music.

Our new Mind the Music programme has three main strands.

  1.  Training
  2. Student Support
  3. Outreach


Jo Stockdale training at Community Music

Mind the Music came about in response to the growing number of participants on our courses with mental health issues. It is important that our staff are appropriately trained to deal with wellbeing and health issues of students, and so far we have taken part in training from MindMental Health First Aid EnglandCAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) Mental Health nurses, and the Child Learning and Development Advisory Centre. Where possible we are opening up the training to not only Community Music staff, but anyone working in the creative arts with young people.
Our first training session in March was attended by 50 music and arts leaders. Trainer Jo Stockdale helped us understand how the brain develops throughout childhood and adolescence, providing a basis for further understanding of different mental health conditions.

Our training will continue through the 3 year programme, with a range of training in relevant areas around understanding mental health, and supporting good mental wellbeing.



Where words fail, music speaks

In the wider world, mental ill health is a growing issue. According to a recent government report, there are rising numbers of both routine and emergency presentations to the health services, cuts to services and a lack of data collected, meaning Child Adolescent Mental Health Services are operating in a "fog".

In a recent Young Minds study "only 9% of young people and 6% of parents reported that they had found it easy to get the support they needed" and "only 6% of young people and 3% of parents agreed that there is enough support for children and young people with mental health problems"
75% of mental ill health has developed by the age of 18 and according a 2016 NHS report"most children and young people get no support. Even for those that do the average wait for routine appointments for psychological therapy was 32 weeks in 2015/16
This means that by the time young people are beginning further education, they may be dealing with issues without support. 

“In 2015-16, more than 15,000 UK-based first-year students disclosed mental health issues”. “The Universities UK report, Minding Our Future, states that "the number of students dropping out with mental health problems has more than trebled in recent years”.
This is all rather overwhelming to read, let alone work out how to and who can respond to this need. 

Plato music quote

Matt Mars, course leader of our Creative Music Production and Business Foundation Degree explains how Community Music builds a relationship with students entering the course.  
“We’ve seen a significant increase of applicants from backgrounds of mental health issues and we have to be especially careful to ensure that the right support is in place for students to succeed given that we uniquely disregard previous qualifications. Paradoxically this can mean that we create more of a bond of trust with out prospective students prior to starting the course so that we can adequately understand their personal needs. We have successfully supported students with mental health conditions including bipolar, depression, anxiety, and psychosis, as well as students with learning disabilites and neurodiverse conditions, to complete their awards with us.”

Community Music will continue to offer additional support where needed for students on our degree course with additional issues, but Mind the Music will enable a greater level of support, including more one-to-one sessions with students and tutors, a new Mental Health Strategy and regular mental wellbeing drop in sessions. Through Mind the Music we aim to increase dialogue with students on the issues they need support with, and to increase retention of students with mental health issues.

Read Wednesday’s Mental Health Awareness Week Blog #3 for powerful stories of music and mental health, from two of our students.

Music has the power to bring people together like no other art formWe have established a new relationship with Tower Hamlets and Newham Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), where creative interventions are currently limited. We are offering one-to-one and group sessions to young people accessing CAMHS services. These sessions focus around an 'in the moment' experience of enjoyment of music, inviting active participation, creativity, exploration, and self-expression. The sessions are based around enabling music making, rather than a focus on learning. We are able to offer pathways from these music sessions (which may be held in a CAMHS specialist care ward or at our base in Whitechapel) onto our academic courses for young people who may wish and be able to move towards that option. 

There is robust recent evidence from a number of sources that shows the dynamic impact that creative participation in the arts has on young people’s mental health and wellbeing. This includes a wide-ranging parliamentary health and the arts report (Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing Report 2017), and individual project evaluations (for example the Music in Mind Evaluation by Dr Alison Daubney in February 2017). It is now accepted at government level that creative activity assists in overall health and has a particularly powerful effect on mental health amongst the young.

One programme doing wonderful work in the South East is Rhythmix’s Music In Mind – watch a film on their work here:


With these three main strands of TrainingStudent Support and Outreach, Mind the Music aims to make a positive difference in the mental wellbeing of young people with mental health issues in East London through creative music making, increased facilitator training, and effective support for all students enrolled on Community Music courses.
We will evaluate our work throughout the programme and look forward to this report supporting the growth of creative interventions alongside mental health services.

If you are a music leader who would like to hear more about our future training sessions, or if you would like to know more about any aspect of the Mind the Music programme, please email


Mind the Music is funded by the JA Clarke Trust and Children in Need.

stay in touch
14:45PM - 13 Jan 2020
Community Music @cmsounds
@Mayer_Brown_UK @alzheimerssoc @aktcharity @SolaceWomensAid @mcsuk Amazing! Thank you so much for your support
14:44PM - 13 Jan 2020
Community Music @cmsounds
RT @Mayer_Brown_UK: Each year, we fundraise for great charities. In the past 12 months, we've raised over £55k for @alzheimerssoc @aktchari…

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