Getting in tune: Music provides unique opportunities for teens’ self-expression

For adolescents who may struggle sharing their thoughts, music can be a vital instrument of self-expression.

It can be particularly valuable for those who may experience mental illness, as the World Health Organization reports that half of diagnosed mental illnesses occur before the age of 14. The Ad Council tapped into that power earlier this year with the Sound it Out Campaign, which encourages youth and adults to use music to start difficult conversations about mental health.

“Music is so powerful because it is integral to nature,” said Rosecrance Recreation Therapist Paul Fasano. “Our own heartbeat is a rhythm that is constantly going, and we resonate with the sound, no matter who we are or what catches our attention.”

Because of that universal nature, music and the arts play an important part in the adolescent programming at the Rosecrance Griffin Williamson Campus. As clients engage, they discover new ways to talk about situations that may trigger anxiety and find music that calms their minds and spirits. These experiences help create breakthrough moments when clients suddenly grasp a concept or discover an insight into their situation that pushes the recovery process a big leap forward.

Clients also learn how to incorporate it into daily life, with tools such as ready-to-go playlists that help with emotional regulation.

In addition, clients, family, and loved ones also can use music to communicate by paying close attention to the lyrics and mood of favorite tunes. Instead of asking “What music do you like?” adults can ask “What music do you identify with?” to connect with youth.