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Study finds majority of young people rely on lyrics to help mental wellbeing

Youth Music's research has found a link between songwriting, self-expression and wellbeing in young people

  • 1 December 2023
Study finds majority of young people rely on lyrics to help mental wellbeing

A survey by Youth Music has found that 93% of young people said that listening to, reading, or writing lyrics often serves as a therapeutic tool.

More than 1,000 young peopled aged between 16 to 24 responded to the survey, with 54% also saying they often feel that writing, listening to or reading lyrics helps to reduce feelings of isolation of loneliness.

Youth Music’s new research found a strong link between songwriting, self-expression and wellbeing in young people.

Qualitative research reveals how lyric writing "is used to process emotions and events, and as a therapeutic tool for regulating and channelling experiences into something positive."

The report asserts that music is "a powerful vehicle to engage with social issues", citing the role of gospel and folk music in the civil rights movement in the US and the UK punk subculture's anti-establishment rebellion against social conditions in the '70s to back up its research.

During a time where the aftermath of the pandemic and ongoing cost of living crisis is affecting mental health across the country, Youth Music set out to deepen its understanding into the role of creativity in young people's wellbeing following the 2021 Self-Expression report, surveying young people and finding that 93% of respondents find listening to, reading or writing lyrics as good for their mental wellbeing.

Speaking to Youth Music, Manchester-based multidisciplinary artist B!TEZ concurred, saying that she writes lyrics "as a love language to myself as for expression purposes and to self-regulate, but also to connect to other people because you're going through the similar emotions."

Matt Griffiths, CEO of Youth Music, said: “The last few years have been a difficult time for many, but particularly for young people who have experienced significant upheaval and instability in such a short space of time, during such pivotal points in their lives. The impact of which is weighing heavily on their mental health. And it’s getting tougher for young people – especially those facing barriers in their lives – to access support.

“This new evidence shows that creativity continues to provide an important outlet for young people in times like these. Which is why it’s crucial we ensure the projects providing the space for this invaluable work are able to survive and thrive, in these challenging economic circumstances.”

Jinx Prowse, CEO of Youth Music-funded partner Music Fusion, said that music and lyric writing is "cathartic", describing it as young people's only release and "way of translating their trauma."

"It helps them realise what they're going through."

However, this expression has been put at risk with the increasing use of rap lyrics in UK trials, prompting initiatives such as the Art Not Evidence campaign, backed by MP Nadia Whittome and Annie Mac, to oppose this.

Read the full Youth Music report into young people's relationship with music and lyrics here

Tibor Heskett is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow him on Twitter

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