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Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness Through Music

January 30, 2019

An orchestra in which all the musicians are dealing with mental health issues is working to harness the healing power of music.

 

 

When Ronald Braunstein conducts an orchestra, there’s no sign of his bipolar disorder. He’s confident and happy.

 

Music isn’t his only medicine, but its healing power is potent. Scientific research has shown that music helps fight depression, lower blood pressure and reduce pain.

 

The National Institutes of Health has a partnership with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts called Sound Health: Music and the Mind, to expand on the links between music and mental health. It explores how listening to, performing or creating music involves brain circuitry that can be harnessed to improve health and well-being.

 

Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, said: “We’re bringing neuroscientists together with musicians to speak each other’s language. Mental health conditions are among those areas we’d like to see studied.”

 

 

Mr. Braunstein, 63, has experienced the benefits of music for his own mental health and set out to bring them to others by founding orchestras in which the performers are all people affected by mental illness.

 

Upon graduating f