The hidden virus affecting us: How can music and the creative arts help in mental health pandemic?

The hidden virus affecting us: How can music and the creative arts help in mental health pandemic?

Well I don’t know about you but I’ve been busy encouraging everyone to clean, santise and do whatever we can to get rid of this virus, I’ve bought products I never knew existed and got the children doing cleaning they never knew happened – ‘cleaning door handles!’. Within our homes and our lives we are doing what we can to protect ourselves from Coronavirus. 

What a shame there isn’t a product for the virus running through our homes that was able to eradicate the constant use of technology.

We are all struggling  to ensure school work is complete, young people are still engaging in online communication with their friends and allowing them way more screen time than ever before.  Families are struggling with how mental health is managed in young people during this time , affected by how they use  social media and educating them on the importance of making appropriate decisions online.

With so much conflicting information between ‘it’s o.k, to allow them more screen time’ to ‘too much screen time is harmful’ it’s so hard to know what the balance is.

Whilst writing this article I tried to find some stats on how much screen time has increased during Covid-19 and I couldn’t….I’m sure it won’t be long and I wish I could have commissioned it. But a straw poll of my family household and peer group suggests that senior school aged children are spending around 15 hours a day looking at a screen and being stimulated.

Now I’m no expert but I’d say that that’s not healthy and the worry is when those children return to school how will they be able to sit and concentrate in the classroom without it. Of course, we know this pandemic is going to change the world as we know it, how we interact and how we learn so it may change the way we teach.

In the meantime how can we encourage children to not get (as my mum used to say) ‘square eyes’….MUSIC.

Music is powerful in any situation, it can make us feel happy 😊or sad 😭, we can translate words how we want, different genres of music bring out different emotions in all of us. Celebrities have been taking to digital platforms to share music from their own bedrooms, encouraging young people to do the same (check out or for some inspiration).   Writing is so powerful to unlock emotions that might not be able to be articulated (and it also actually gets them writing!). For those that are struggling with motivation rather than going straight online as soon as they open their eyes, playing a piece of music might help them get out of bed sooner and with a better mindset for the day ahead. I dread drawing those curtains back each day but by choosing the right song and singing in their ears it helps me and my children face the day with a bit of humour and relief.

Everyone’s circumstances are different and as adults we know we have bad days and good days and that’s o.k. Music can help us access a world outside of the walls we find ourselves in each day currently. Maybe music is our product for the technology pandemic? I’m particularly finding my 90s dance tunes help me feel better as a stand in the shower to face the day ahead.

In the words of Elton John,

‘You know I’m still standing better than I ever did , Looking like a true survivor, feeling like a little kid !’

Laura Grant is the co-founder of Freedom Foundation UK, a social enterprise that uses music and dance to educate children about the effects of social media on mental health.

Do you dream about becoming the next big artist? share it with us and the world and  tag our social media pages