Promoting Young People’s Musical Identities to Facilitate Recovery from Mental Illness


Journal of Youth Studies




The new ‘youth mental health paradigm’ (IAYMH. 2015. 'International Association for Youth Mental Health.' Accessed February 15, promotes the need for youth-friendly mental health options. Music therapy initiatives offer innovative modes of working towards young people’s recovery in ways that align with the ethos of these services (McCaffrey, Edwards, and Fannon. 2011. 'Is There a Role for Music Therapy in the Recovery Approach in Mental Health?' The Arts in Psychotherapy 38 (3): 185–189). This paper details a participatory research project investigating how and why promoting young people’s musical identities can facilitate their recovery from mental illness. Young people accessing a music therapy programme in a youth mental health service in Australia participated in collaborative qualitative interviews that were analysed using constructivist grounded theory techniques. Cycles of action and reflection resulted in a grounded theory explaining the recovery of musical identity, and mapping young people’s community-based music needs for wellbeing. We propose that promoting young people’s musical identities facilitates recovery through: the construction of a health-based identity; facilitating meaning-making; and supporting social participation. Findings are discussed in relation to recovery literature and social justice issues that arise in response to findings about young people’s needs for appropriate music access. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)

Music and Health Institute Terms

Engagement Level; Interviews; Mental Health; Music Therapy; Wellness and Well-Being

Indexed Terms

Youth; musical identity; mental illness; recovery; Mental Disorders; Recovery (Disorders); Mental Health

Study Type

Grounded Theory Study; Qualitative Methods

Document Type