Finding her voice again
She has the voice of an angel - and Anna Hart is proof of music’s ability to calm and soothe.
A deterioration in the 32-year-old’s mental health led to her hospitalisation, but it also steered her towards a program that would lead her on a path of recovery and hope.
A breakthrough therapy project by Lake Macquarie Mental Health Unit has had outstanding success with mental health patients.
“I was very unwell. I suffered from psychosis and I wasn’t dealing with reality,” Anna said.
While Anna was a patient at Mater Mental Health Centre, she met Dr Tanya Hall, who became her treating psychiatrist. Dr Hall noticed Anna’s special interest in a newly set up music group. “There was a break through moment when Anna stood up and broke out in song,” said Dr Hall.
“The whole ward was spellbound. They were amazed and you could almost see Anna grow taller from that experience. It seemed like it really contributed to her recovery.”
Anna’s emotional delivery touches all who hear her sing - and it’s been life changing.
“It made me feel special and that I was included. It was also nice to share it with the other patients,” said Anna.
Dr Hall said the Lake Macquarie Mental Health Unit recognised that many of its staff have musical abilities in addition to their professional skills, and saw an opportunity to develop a music program with little (if any) additional cost.
“There is a wealth of evidence supporting the therapeutic use of music in mental health settings. It helps with their mood, their recovery, feelings of wellbeing, of social connectedness and it also increases staff engagement,” said Dr Hall.
“We set up this music group to run for one hour twice a week, led by staff who provide a choice of music, teach the songs and lead singing using piano or guitar.
Staff asked participants to rate their feelings before and after the group sessions. “What we found was remarkable – all of the areas that we questioned, such as mood, feeling, motivation and self-esteem – returned significant positive improvements,” said Dr Hall.
For Anna, music continues to be a big part of her recovery and she saw a glimpses of who she really was.
“It helped me find my voice again, in a really personal way. It’s just daily steps at a time and working with my family and those who care about me.”
It was fitting that Anna and Dr Hall performed a duet at the 2017 Excellence Awards Gala Dinner and to top off the night - the Music Group Activity on a Mental Health Inpatient Unit, Lake Macquarie Mental Health Unit also won the Enhancing the Patients’ Experience Through the Arts award.