Community singing can improve your mental health, study says

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Need help managing your anxiety or depression? Try singing with your friends, because it could help improve your mental health, according to a new report.

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Researchers from universities in Europe recently conducted an study, published in BMJ journal Medical Humanities, to determine the benefits of singing for people with mental health conditions.

To do so, they examined about 120 individuals from Sing Your Heart Out, a grassroots initiative in Norfolk that runs weekly singing workshops for people with mental health conditions issues. Scientists followed them for six months, asking the participants and facilitators questions about the program and its effects.

After analyzing the results, they discovered that those involved in the community singing group maintained or improved their mental health.

In fact, the combination of singing and socializing was a major part of the recovery process, because it promoted ongoing feelings of belonging.

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"We heard the participants calling the initiative a 'life saver' and that it 'saved their sanity,'" coauthor Tom Shakespeare said in a statement. "Others said they simply wouldn't be here without it, they wouldn't have managed – so we quickly began to see the massive impact it was having."

Researchers also found that the choir, which allows anyone to join regardless of ability, does not perform publicly so there is little pressure during rehearsals. “It’s very inclusive and it’s just for fun,” the authors wrote.

Scientists believe the program and others similar to it can be effective treatment for those with mental health issues.

“For some it represented one component of a wider progamme of support. For others it stood out as key to their recovery or maintenance of health,” Shakespeare said. “But the key thing for everyone was that the Sing Your Heart Out model induced fun and happiness.”

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