Ahead of World Mental Health Day on 10 October, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra releases key findings from recent research on music and mental health. Asking a nationally representative sample of 2,110 adults on the perceived benefits of listening to orchestral music during lockdown in 2020, the findings were as follows:

  • Seven in 10 (71%) people that listened to orchestral music during isolation cited tangible and lasting positive impacts on their mood and wellbeing.
  • A third (35%) said it helped them to relax and maintain a sense of calmness and wellbeing. Meanwhile, 18% of respondents said orchestral music had lifted their mood, with a further 14% saying it had helped their productivity and concentration with work and studies.
  • Those over 55 who had listened to orchestral music during lockdown were the most likely to say that it had had a positive impact on their mental health (72%). Almost half (49%) said it had helped them to remain calm, which was twice the proportion of those under 35. Meanwhile, a quarter (26%) said it had lifted their spirits.
  • Among those who described themselves as being a keen classical music and opera fan, the vast majority (89%) cited benefits of listening to orchestral music on their mental health.
  • More broadly, orchestral music was the genre that people were the most likely to turn to in order to relax and maintain a sense of calmness. Twice as many people turned to orchestral music to relax as those who turned to jazz (9%) or blues (10%), and three times as many who turned to gospel music (6%).

James Williams, Managing Director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra: “World Mental Health Day is a chance to remind ourselves of the power of music, the meaning it brings to our lives, and the structure and sense it brings to the society we create. Who hasn’t – at some point in their lives – felt their hair stand on end when listening to some music, or felt calmer and more in control listening to other music? It helps us to get up in the morning, or block out our worries at the end of the day.

“Under the enormous pressures and challenges that 2020 has thrown us, this has been the tonic that has been needed. Many have relied on music as a way of coping, while others have sought ways to fulfil their mental and emotional existences. As musicians, it is our role to provide society with a cushion to help their mental health, to fire people’s spirit and to give hope and comfort during this most isolated and lonely time in our modern history.”

Download a PDF of the full report here


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