Mental Illness Through Therapy

There are many ways of noticing that someone is experiencing mental illness other than simply stating the fact. The term therapy is often understood as talking out your feelings to a professional therapist which leads to a possible diagnosis. This is not the case, however, where there are many outlets that one can express what they are going through. One example of this is music therapy. Through this kind of treatment, psychologists are able to find whether or not a patient is experiencing some type of mental illness through this artistic form of expression.

With this type of therapy, one is able to analyze the type of music created to understand an artist’s self-concept and rehabilitative needs. Further, one is able to see those issues in the lyrics of their music. By examining an artist’s work, a professional is able to notice psychological and developmental processes where they may have not been able to notice in other ways. Because of this, there are great benefits for the artists combining analytic approaches of song analysis with an experiential, arts-based investigation.

As stated by the AMTA, “Music Therapy is the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” Not only is music therapy beneficial for the clinician to better understand their patient, it is also helpful for the patient to let go of these emotions as well as receiving the help they need at the same time. Music therapy is especially advantageous for those who experience issues with communication. Activities that are included in such treatment are singing, dancing, creating music, or by listening to music. By doing so, patients are able to express their feelings in a creative and entertaining way. 

Music being understood as having healing abilities is not news and has been used as such since the times of Aristotle. However, the first official documented practice of using music for therapy was in 1789 through “Music Physically Considered,” an article in Columbian Magazine. Further, throughout the 1900s this practice gained popularity where there were multiple programs introduced. In 1903, the National Society of Musical Therapeutics was founded by Eva Augusta Vescelius. Next, in 1926, the National Association for Music in Hospitals was founded by Isa Maud Ilsen. Another, in 1941, the National Foundation of Music Therapy was founded by Harriet Ayer Seymour. Considering music therapy as an organized clinical profession truly began in the 1940s. Flash forward to today, there are around 5,000 certified music therapists in the United States.

There is a common link between creativity and mental illness. Many songs reflect the type of life an artist has. Further, one’s mental health is a significant part in one’s life. Therefore, it is more than likely that if an artist suffers from some type of mental illness, it will show in the songwriting of those artists. Meg Hutchinson describes her experience with mental illness and how it affects her music. Hutchinson suffers from bipolar disorder. She explains how in her song, “The Living Side” she expresses how she promises to stay on the living side. This proves that mental illness is commonly displayed in the lyrics of their music.

There are many songs with dark lyrics that are a result of the artist having mental illness. Eminem suffers from depression and his song, “Stan”, writes “You coulda rescued me from drowning / now it’s too late, I’m on a thousand downers now, I’m drowsy / and all I wanted was a lousy letter or a call.” Another by Eminem, “Rock Bottom” writes “My life is full of empty promises and broken dreams / I’m hopin’ things look up; but there ain’t no job openings / I feel discouraged, hungry and malnourished” Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day suffers from panic disorder and his band’s song, “Basket Case,” writes “Sometimes I give myself the creeps / sometimes my mind plays tricks on me / it all keeps adding up I think I’m cracking up / am I just paranoid or am I just stoned?” Morrissey of The Smiths suffers from depression and his band’s song, “I know It’s Over” writes “Oh Mother, I can feel the soil falling over my head.” All of these songs demonstrate how mental illness affects and is apparent in the lyrics of those artists who are suffering.

Another example is an artist with the name of X. Ari. She is a singer-songwriter and suffers from anxiety, depression, PTSD, and insomnia. Some lyrics she has created include, “There was no dim light at the end of the tunnel and every part of my being thought this was the end. If I only knew that so many people have similar struggles, I would not have felt so alone. Perhaps I would been able to recover sooner had I not been so ashamed.” As you can see here, she is openly discussing her mental illness in this song. This is an example of lyrics that describe the current state of their lives. There isn’t much digging needed to find examples of some sort of mental illness here. However, this is a good example of how music is used as an outlet for mental illness and has a significant impact on the lyrics created. Also, this just shows that not only was she able to express her feelings, she is acting as a real life example of someone who has effectively used music as more than just a leisure activity.

Emotional expression includes but is not limited to regular one on one conversation and that is something that must be understood. Today, more than ever, people are experiencing mental illness at alarming rates. For those who do need assistance, they should be aware of the many resources available that can help their given situation. Many are reluctant or apprehensive about classic verbal therapy which stops them from getting the help they need. Music therapy is surely a more appealing type of treatment and if more people knew that this is an option, it can save the lives of those suffering.   


Additional informationNotes on contributorsMichael ViegaMichael Viega. (n.d.). What’s in a song? Combining analytical and arts-based analysis for songs created by songwriters with neurodisabilities. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from

American music Therapy association. (n.d.). Retrieved March 08, 2021, from

An interview with The Singer-songwriter and mental Health Advocate, X.ARI! (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from

Landau, E. (2013, August 23). When patients have ‘music emergencies’. Retrieved March 08, 2021, from

Mental illness and CREATIVITY: Singer songwriter Meg Hutchinson on bipolar disorder and medications. (2019, August 12). Retrieved March 06, 2021, from* custom css */.tdi_98_160 .tdb-author-name-wrap{ align-items: baseline; }.tdi_98_160 .avatar{ width: 20px; height: 20px; margin-right: 6px;, Bartleet, L., By, & Bartleet, L. (2020, December 08). 50 songs about depression. Retrieved March 06, 2021, from

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1 Response to Definition-RowanRat

  1. davidbdale says:

    RowanRat, you put this post into the Regrade Please category. Since it hadn’t been graded, I removed that request. To keep from going insane, I’m going to respond to Feedback and Regrade requests ONLY ON THE REWRITE POSTS, so I moved the conversation there. I’ll grade your first draft there and provide feedback to guide your revisions.


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