Growing up can be tough for some kids but findings of a new research suggest that parents whose children suffer from depression and behavioral problems can turn to music therapy as this may help troubled kids and teens.

For the new study spanning a three year period starting in March 2011 to May 2014, researchers from the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust and Queen's University Belfast gathered and analyzed the data of a group of young individuals who were receiving treatment for emotional, development or behavioral problems.

Study researcher Sam Porter, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen's University, and colleagues divided the 251 participants into two groups. The first group, which was consist of 128 individuals, received traditional therapy while the second group composed of 123 individuals, were assigned to receive music therapy along with the usual care.

By the end of the study, the researchers found that the children who were given music therapy exhibited increased self-esteem and reduced depressive symptoms. They also significantly improved their communication and interactive skills compared with the participants who only received traditional therapy. Follow-ups made after the study also found that the beneficial effects of music therapy can be sustained for a long time.

Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust chief executive Ciara Reilly said that music therapy is often used with kids who had mental health needs and the results of the study mark the first time that the effectiveness of this alternative treatment is shown in a randomized study.

"The findings are dramatic and underscore the need for music therapy to be made available as a mainstream treatment option," Reilly said. "For a long time we have relied on anecdotal evidence and small-scale research findings about how well music therapy works. Now we have robust clinical evidence to show its beneficial effects."

Figures from the National Institutes of Mental Health show that about 11 percent of children below 18 years old have symptoms of depressive disorder and popular treatment methods currently used include psychotherapy and use of antidepressant medications, which is known to be associated with increased suicidal risks.

The researchers of the study hope that the results of the research, which was presented at Riddel Hall, Queen's University Belfast on Thursday, Oct. 23, would encourage mental health institution and mental health experts to consider music therapy as a treatment option for young individuals with mental health needs and behavioral problems.  

ⓒ 2021 All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.