Oxford Health Charity, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and one of Oxford Health’s Peer Supporters have come together to release a workbook championing the positive impact of music for mental wellbeing.

Dan Brain, a Peer Support Worker and Research Champion for NIHR at Oxford Health, came up with the idea of creating a workbook focused on music thanks to his own emotions and positive experience of using music therapeutically.  As he comments about developing the idea,

At that time I was breathing and feeling music medicine for recovery, my vision was then to share with society. 

An essential part of music medicine was realising that I could convert my life’s timeline to music and creative moments. This has enabled me to manage my mental and physical challenges in a way that was unknown to me, BIPOLAR, blindness, multiple sclerosis and recently cancer, are all musically medicated.  

Realising my music time line was also a lifeline was a glowing feeling, it’s also opened locked doors to other attractive distractions...some of these are creative activities shared inside the Music Medicine booklet.'

The workbook takes you through a set of activities and exercises that helps you reflect on how different pieces of music make you feel and how to identify positives connections. It is accessible for all ages and abilities. It can be used by individuals on their own or in a group setting where the music leads to wider discussions and conversations. 

Dan himself has run several groups using the music medicine books and has also passed books onto the CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health) Patient Experience groups for them to use with young people and their parents, ‘using music to communicate’ creates more open discussions and helps people to relate to each other in a different way, 'Music is a universal language that guides light to our feelings.'

As a Research Champion, Dan has been engaged with the NIHR since meeting them at the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust HealthFest event pre-pandemic.  The role enables him to use his experience of mental health challenges, stigma and, as he so poetically puts it, ‘convert my hard, dark times to growing internal smiles … and positively influencing others’.  The music medicine project has enabled Dan to create a product that will make a difference to others, and by doing so through his role with the NIHR, he can also evaluate the impact it is having so that more teams and individuals can put it into use. 

The Oxford Health Charity are really proud to support this project – through funding the initial printing of the workbooks – as it absolutely meets the aim of enhancing patient experience at the Trust and are looking forward to placing copies in the new Lucy’s Room music space when it opens.  The charity has funded a wide range of music related projects in addition to Music Medicine, including the provision of a music lab at Littlemore, a variety of concerts and individual musicians at both community and mental health sites across the Trust and musical instruments for wards. 

Julie Pink, Head of Charity and Involvement, notes that

‘music can bridge barriers, remind us of childhood memories and provide a mindful escape from stress.  It has an amazing ability to bring joy and boost mood and the projects we have supported that involve music are always well received by patients, carers and staff.’

Research Champions volunteer their time to help spread the word about health and care research to patients and the public and especially those groups who are currently less likely to take part in research. They also help research and healthcare staff understand more about the experiences of those who take part in research. To learn more visit tvsmchampions.nihr.ac.uk