Sing your Heart Out: Community singing ‘improves mental health and helps recovery’

A recent research suggests that singing in groups can help people recover from mental illness, making them feel valued and increasing their confidence. University of East Anglia, England study of singers involved in free weekly workshops in Norfolk found benefits to mood and social skills.

Researchers said the Sing Your Heart Out project had stopped some people from relapsing.They urged other areas to consider running community singing groups.

The Sing Your Heart Out (SYHO) initiative started in 2005 at a psychiatric hospital in Norwich, before branching out into the community.

Researchers from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said a study of 20 members of the group over six months found singing and mixing socially had helped those who had had serious mental health issues to function better in day-to-day life.

Lead researcher Prof Tom Shakespeare said it was “a low-commitment, low-cost tool for mental health recovery within the community” because it gave participants a feeling of belonging and wellbeing.

He said the breathing involved in singing had also been shown to be good for the body.

“Anyone can make a noise. No-one is ever rejected in these groups.

“There’s also very little pressure because the participants are not rehearsing towards a performance.”

He said that this approach meant the singing groups were very inclusive, relaxed and fun.And, in contrast to music therapy, there is no pressure for anyone to discuss their condition.