To the Beat of a Different Drum': Improving the Social and Mental Wellbeing of At-risk Young People Through Drumming

Lisa Wood
Penny Ivery
Robert Donovan
Estée Lambin


Purpose-There is growing interest in the use of music and other arts mediums as a way of addressing mental health and social wellbeing issues in a non-clinical or therapy setting. This can be particularly apt for more at-risk young people who may not engage readily with other approaches. Published evaluation of such interventions is however sparse. This paper aims to describe an evaluation of the DRUMBEAT program which uses drumming as a way to engage at-risk youth, whilst simultaneously incorporating themes relating to mental wellbeing and healthy relationships. Design/methodology/approach-An evaluation was undertaken in 19 schools participating in the ten-week DRUMBEAT program. Pre, interim and post-program surveys were administered to participating students (n =180). School-based data on student behaviour and teacher feedback was also collected. Findings-Positive changes were observed on several measures, including a 10 per cent increase in self-esteem scores by program completion. School data showed a decrease in reported behaviour incidents for 29 per cent of participants. Overall, the evaluation indicated that the DRUMBEAT program provides a creative medium for working with at-risk young people and helps develop self-esteem and social relationship skills. Originality/value-There is a paucity of published evaluations of interventions of this kind. Also novel is the delivery of the program in a school-based rather than clinical therapy setting. The paper also demonstrates how a 'real world' intervention program can go beyond basic process evaluation to collect outcome data that helps build the evidence base for mental health promotion. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)