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Group singing fosters mental health and wellbeing: findings from the East Kent “singing for health” network project

Stephen Clift (Professor of Health Education and Research Director at the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK)
Ian Morrison (Senior Researcher at the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, UK)

Mental Health and Social Inclusion

ISSN: 2042-8308

Article publication date: 23 May 2011

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to describe the development and evaluation of an innovative community singing initiative with mental health services users and supporters in East Kent, UK.

Design/methodology/approach

A network of seven singing groups was established between September 2009 and June 2010. The choirs met weekly in three terms with breaks for Christmas and Easter, and joined together for two public performances in February and June 2010. In total, 137 participants were involved in the evaluation processes over this period. Of these, 42 provided complete data on the CORE questionnaire, a widely used clinical measure of mental distress, at baseline and eight months later.

Findings

Clinically significant improvements were observed in response to the CORE. These changes, together with qualitative feedback from participants, demonstrate that group singing can have substantial benefits in aiding the recovery of people with a history of serious and enduring mental health problems. A limited body of research has also shown that singing can be helpful for people with existing mental and physical health problems.

Originality/value

The research finds marked improvements in mental wellbeing on a clinically validated measure for people with a range of enduring mental health issues participating in a network of small choirs. Qualitative evidence indicates that group singing can offer a wide range of emotional and social benefits for mental health service users.

Keywords

Citation

Clift, S. and Morrison, I. (2011), "Group singing fosters mental health and wellbeing: findings from the East Kent “singing for health” network project", Mental Health and Social Inclusion, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 88-97. https://doi.org/10.1108/20428301111140930

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited