African American Mental Health and Wellness (AMEN) team is collaborating with KAZI FM 88.7 in producing a radio series to highlight the importance of addressing mental health and physical wellness in the African American community. The monthly series will feature AMEN team members from the School of Nursing, leaders from Mt. Zion Baptist and Rehoboth Baptist churches, and community organizations who provide mental health resources and support in Travis county.
Episode 8: The Healing Power of Music; a Way to Sooth the Mind, Body and Soul
We are bombarded with challenges right now. Not only are we wrestling with a global pandemic that is ravaging communities of color at an accelerated rate, we are also responding to the tragic murder of another black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis, MN. Now, more than ever, we seek a place of refuge and a spirit of hope.
Shannon W. Jones was joined by Jacki Hecht, Lelonda Reese, and Sandy Yaklin to discuss how music can offer comfort and healing to the mind, body and spirit, especially during this difficult time. Lelonda is the Rehoboth Baptist Church Director of Music Ministry and an AMEN health worker and Sandy is a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner and PhD Nursing Student at UT Austin SON
Lelonda Reese shares how Rehoboth congregants use music as a healing process by expressing their feelings and emotions through songs and lyrics that has been portrayed. Physical expressions such as, crying, shouting and lifting up their hands are a coping tool for congregants to feel relaxed and calm, which has a positive effect on the brain. She says, “The lyrics have a way of just elevating us and changing our mood and getting our ‘spiritology’ to the next level.”
Sandy Yaklin further explains, “It’s hard to find words right now…music combines words, melody and rhythm. It helps us to connect with one another. It involves almost every part of the brain and activates nearly every neural subsystem of the brain.” She also discusses its positive effects on our nervous system when we feel distressed and its powerful psychological effect that improves our health and well-being.
“Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and that which cannot remain silent”
- Victor Hugo- poet and novelist
Listen to the podcast to hear about Lelonda’s personal experience and Sandy’s suggestions on how best to incorporate music into our lives to help improve our mood, reduce depression and anxiety.
Additional resources to tap into the healing power of music and to support local musicians:
- Visit Rehoboth Baptist Church and Mt. Zion Baptist Church for music during church services.
- Carolyn Philips, School of Nursing Alumni: Dr. Philips’ non-profit, Songs for the Soul, was founded to support the well-being of society’s professional caregivers through storytelling and music, and to foster a culture that celebrates and sustains compassionate care.
- Healthy Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM) provides access to affordable healthcare for Austin’s low-income working musicians. Many Austin musicians are self-employed, often work multiple jobs, and have no access to health insurance or basic healthcare.
- Recovery Unplugged provides group therapy, individual counseling, rehab and more, and believes in the healing power of music. Read "How Recovery Unplugged uses the power of music to help treat addiction."
We are so grateful to the City of Austin and its tremendous music scene that brings people together and provides comfort and healing to our entire community.
Learn more about AMEN podcast and check out other episodes!