About Music Feedback
Music Feedback is an innovative anti-stigma mental health campaign targeting young people aged 12-25 years. Under the slogan “Music talks about mental health. So can you”, the project utilises popular music and musicians to encourage young people to talk about mental health issues.
Music Feedback was initiated by WA Department of Health Mental Health Division (now the Mental Health Commission) in 2009 with support from the WA Music Industry Association.
The 2011 Music Feedback project was coordinated by Ruah Community Services with a grant from the WA Mental Health Commission. Other partners during this period were the Department for Communities – Youth, Inspire Youth Foundation, Cultural Infusion and headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation.
Music Feedback aims to meet the priorities identified in Australia’s Fourth National Mental Health Plan (2009-2014) relating to priority 1 (social inclusion and recovery) and priority 2 (prevention and early intervention). Over a period of three years, the project has drawn on new partnerships and ideas to grow and evolve, and is now poised for further expansion in 2012.
The core elements of the 2011 Music Feedback campaign were:
- Production of 40,000 CD/DVD packs featuring songs and music clips by popular local and national musicians across a range of musical genres.
- A ‘rockumentary’ produced by a team of young volunteers of interviews with musicians talking about music.
- Fresh branding developed by a professional design agency.
- A website at www.musicfeedback.com.au, Twitter and Facebook pages.
- A statewide publicity campaign to launch Music Feedback 2011 during National Youth Week in April.
- Distribution of the CD/DVD to schools, community groups and health agencies around the nation.
- Collaboration with Cultural Infusion and the Department for Communities-Youth to develop a DIY Events Toolkit for a series of Music Feedback youth events.
The Stigma of Mental Illness
Three out of four people with a mental illness report that they have experienced stigma (Sane, 2007). Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart. When a person is labelled by their illness they are often stereotyped and face prejudice and discrimination. Research has shown that stigma towards people with a mental illness is a major obstacle in their access to mental health care and better quality of life (Sartorius, 2002).
Over 50% of Australians believe that a person with a mental illness can “snap out of the problem” and that the illness is “a sign of personal weakness”. Due to fear and shame, over 20% of Australians indicated that they would not tell anyone if they were experiencing mental health problems (Griffiths, Nakane, Christensen, Yoshioka, Jorm and Nakane 2006).
Negative attitudes towards mental illness are often fuelled by a lack of knowledge about the issue. It follows that the starting point to breaking down the stigma attached to mental illness is through awareness-raising and education. It is then that social inclusion can occur.
Public education, consumer and carer self-advocacy and stronger community connections are essential to promote the human rights of people with mental illness and reduce stigma. Greater awareness about mental health issues and available services also encourages people to access necessary supports and treatment.
In planning an anti-stigma campaign, the Department of Health’s Mental Health Division (MHD) identified the following key objectives:
- increasing community awareness and understanding of mental illness
- enhancing the human rights and dignity of people with mental illness and their families
- countering the myths and stigma surrounding mental illness
- promoting early recognition of symptoms of mental illness and access to appropriate services and supports
- increasing the capacity for people with a mental illness and their families for self-determination, such as media training or public speaking to counter misrepresentation
- encouraging communities to be more supportive and inclusive of people affected by mental illness
- promoting the benefits of studying and working in mental health
Elements of these multi-faceted campaigns have been integrated into MHD’s approach to mental health promotion and stigma reduction. This includes:
- profiling personal stories by people with a mental illness, their family and peers in publications and online
- media training for mental health stakeholders
- engaging celebrities as media champions
- using popular culture and humour to appeal to young people
- multi-media strategies (CD/DVD, posters, newspaper, radio and website)
- state-wide and local activities to promote mental health and social inclusion, such as public forums, youth art workshops and all-ages gigs
Targeting young people is a priority because early intervention delivers better long-term health and social outcomes for people affected by mental illness (National Health and Hospitals Reform Commission, 2008).
Research shows that exercise and music can quickly change a person’s mood from sad to happy (Primack, Dalton, Carroll, Agarwal and Fine, 2008). Music connects deeply with adolescents and influences identity development more than other entertainment mediums. Further, adolescents are exposed to music more frequently than any other age group, with an average of 16 hours of activity per week (Primack, Dalton, Carroll, Agarwal and Fine, 2008).