Throughout the years people have come up to me or written to me on literally hundreds of occasions asking, “Have you ever written a song about…?” Often the topic that fills in that blank is one I feel like we haven’t covered specifically. But after looking through our catalogue, or consulting with professional counselors I find songs that can be helpful.
Such is the case with songs about mental illness.
This is especially true when one considers the definition of metal illness provided by Mayo Clinic. It reads as follows:
Mental illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions —disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors. Many people have mental health concerns from time to time.
You don’t need to be a doctor to know that music can affect your mood.
The very reason we love music is because of the way it makes us feel.
There are songs for when you want to rock out and songs for when you want to relax; songs that make you happy and songs that make you sad.
Music can alter your mood almost instantly!
But it goes deeper than that. God’s gift of song actually creates a chemical response in our brain. We were created to respond to music! When combined with lyrics crafted to share a message of healing and hope, music can permeate our soul at its deepest level.
I can think of multiple occasions where our songs have been helpful for people suffering from depression, eating disorders, and addictive behaviors. Therapists frequently use our songs to help people who are suffering from deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
According to Anxiety.org “music can be harnessed as therapy for your anxiety.”
Based on these observations and the Mayo definition cited above I have a new answer for when people ask if Music for the Soul has songs about mental illness. *
The answer is yes.
A few songs that may help
Speaking about Music for the Soul one woman recently said, “I only wish people realized how powerful it is to use this form of music to connect their suffering to a message that gives their pain a voice.”
The kinds of conditions I’ve mentioned all induce suffering.
With that in mind allow me to share four songs that authentically give voice to pain.
Each one falls into one of the categories above.
Each one is an honest plea to God.
I’m dying to be truly beautiful
Make me look like you
‘Cause I’ve believed everything that this ugly world says about me
It’s as if there is a race and there’s no way I can win
‘Cause I’m running with my shoelaces tied
Every time I get up, I get knocked back down
How will I ever reach the finish line?
Wash the stain on my heart
Break the chain I carry
Tell me you know everything and tell me that you love me
Tell me mercy’s great enough to see beyond my scars
and wash away the stain upon my heart
I’ve been so out of control
I’ve trashed everything
Can the broken pieces ever fit again?
When I cry out in the night
It feels like no one hears me
But a light somewhere inside whispers with mercy
Whether it is depression, PTSD, anxiety, addictive behaviors, or some other form of mental distress I hope you will find music to be a soothing and comforting part of your journey towards mental health and wholeness.
* In the case of extreme disorders such as schizophrenia I don’t feel personally qualified to comment on the efficacy of music. However, there is some research suggesting that it may be helpful in a therapeutic setting.