Our Music and Mental Health project is a programme of music education work with the aim of improving and / or supporting the mental health, fitness and well-being of vulnerable children and young people in our region. The project has grown since its initial beginnings at the Becton Centre and we're pleased to share with you both the development of the project and a selection of case studies of the children taking part.

Since September 2022, project delivery (based on providing music based sessions) has successfully expanded from an initial 3 hours per week (of contact time with professional musicians at The Becton Centre), to ten hours across 3 sites, including Becton and adding Chapel House (Education for Young people unable to access mainstream provision) and Sheffield Children’s Hospital. An ongoing consultation process with Teaching and Therapeutic staff ensures that we identify the young people most in need of the activity, our input, the wider outcomes we're aiming for and how best these may be achieved.

Current Music Leader, Chris Morris, and YYM trainees have adopted highly bespoke music delivery styles for each young person and group, due to their very particular psychological, behavioural, learning and health needs:

The Becton Centre (Psychological Unit)

Delivery occurs one afternoon each week and is based in a school classroom, engaging small groups of resident young people who are predominantly struggling with eating disorders and issues resulting in self harm. A wide range of instrumentation is offered including synthesisers, guitars, tuned percussion, drum pads and interactive apps on iPads. The sessions are mostly based around improvisation, encouraging young people to engage with music, instruments and each other at their own level, without the pressure of getting anything “wrong”. Chris delivers with a minimum of discussion, offering a safe environment that does not rely on conversation to be highly communicative. The structure of the sessions is very loose to be able to adapt quickly to the young people’s psychological needs.

The sessions have succeeded in encouraging young people to engage in educational settings where they would otherwise not, and we have seen a marked development in confidence, self expression and improved relationships with both staff and other young people.

Case Studies

PDF icon

Micro Case Studies from 2019
by Rebecca Denniff

PDF icon

T's Story (May 2023)
by Chris Morris

Chapel House

Chapel House is a small school for young people (U16) who are severely challenged by mainstream education environments. Here, music activity is offered as an 'intervention activity', designed to support young people to work on issues that are keeping them away from mainstream education. These issues include social anxiety, a lack of communication skills, learning difficulties and vulnerability. Our sessions allow the young people have agency in their own musical experience, exploring sounds, methods, collaboration, working in small teams and communication through music. A number of young people will only come to school to take part in the music sessions, which reflects very positively on the impact we have had so far. Chapel House hope to build on this positive outcome to encourage further engagement with wider school activities and staff.

Sheffield Children’s Hospital

Based from the education department at the hospital, these sessions take place on wards, one morning per week. Sessions take the form of small group activities and one to one sessions delivered in the rooms of children too ill or vulnerable to take part anywhere else. The ages (4-18) and health conditions of the young people will vary greatly so a very broad and flexible delivery is essential. We supply electronic keyboards, DJ equipment, guitars, drum pads and iPads to supplement the hospital’s own percussion, guitars and ukuleles. Activities range from learning and singing songs, playing instruments, DJing, and making beats. Instruments are transported around the hospital on trolleys and wheeled suitcases. The young people look forward to their weekly sessions, and staff, parents and carers report back very positively on the well being resulting from these sessions.

Examples of positive and complimentary comments about our Music and Mental Health project on Facebook

Future Plans

The highly successful outcomes of the music sessions Yorkshire Youth and Music has put in place have prompted Becton to ask for delivery across all 3 sites to be increased to 3 days a week, starting in September 2023. They have seen the benefit of using music as a tool to improve the life chances of these young people and are now looking to raise funds and invest in music equipment and staff training, so that their permanent staff can facilitate music activity as part of their daily delivery at all sites. This is an incredibly important legacy for the work we started and the project continues to go from strength to strength as it develops.