App helps young people use music to manage mental health

The average young person listens to music for up to five hours a day, even more during bouts of depression. Researchers from the MARCS Institute have now developed an interactive app, Moody Tunes, that turns this listening time into a tool that could help young people understand and manage their mental health.

Moody Tunes – drawing on evidence-based psychological therapies and more than 10 years of research – works in the background as users listen to music in Spotify by prompting users to record the effect that music has on their moods. In turn, creating playlists of the music they love which best support their wellbeing.

Lead researcher on the project and developer of the app, Professor Sandra Garrido from the MARCS Institute, said that while most would assume music is good for us, it can also have a negative effect on mental health – and young people need to learn how to manage that.

“While music can be a tool that supports the wellbeing of young people, it can also be something that can deepen cycles of negative thinking in young people with vulnerabilities to mental health issues. Educating young people about how to use music effectively is therefore not only important, but given their great interest in it, it is also a crucial doorway to helping young people understand how to manage their mental health,” she said.

Moody Tunes also differs from existing mental health apps, according to Professor Garrido.

“Many of the mental health apps available are largely based on educational models which research shows are not attracting young people who are not already receiving professional help.

“Our app uses the music they already love in an evidence-based tool. It was also developed in close collaboration with young people, people with lived experience of depression, and clinical advisors.”

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