Music therapy comes to Pennsylvania healthcare workers struggling with their mental health

(WKBN) – This pandemic has created mental health challenges, especially for many healthcare workers. Now, the State of Pennsylvania is launching a new initiative to help.

Many healthcare workers who have been involved in the management of COVID-19 patients have said they are exhausted, depressed, have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and simply feel exhausted.

The state is partnering with the Pennsylvania Council of Arts to launch a music therapy program.

It all started with an idea from Michelle Muth – a Slippery Rock graduate who is co-chair of the Pennsylvania Task Force for Music Therapy.

Music therapy helps a person express feelings that they might not be able to express verbally. It can be with instruments, vocals, songwriting, and a variety of musical genres.

Muth said it can help improve a person’s mood, lower blood pressure, and lower heart rate, among other benefits.

The goal is to give healthcare workers what they have been giving their patients for a year and a half.

“Give them the chance to be looked after by a professional rather than a family member. Trying to soothe the pain, hear them, give them an outlet and help them build resilience, ”Muth said.

Muth, along with another Slippery Rock graduate and a current student, are working to set up this therapy program.

She said music therapy has been around since WWII, but has recently taken off.

Music helps stimulate dopamine in the brain and can help a person relax.

Much has changed in a year. Around the same time last year, frontline workers were being honored and people were doing different things to show appreciation. Muth said now, it’s like we take them for granted.

“Because they’re still working,” Muth said. “The pandemic is not over, unfortunately, and there is always – after every war there is always post-traumatic stress and trauma. So there are consequences. When you go through a seizure, the adrenaline goes up in the seizure and then it goes. Then you deal with the repercussions.

This is only for Pennsylvania Association of Hospitals and Health Systems hospitals. Hospitals can apply for grants and get in touch with a music therapist.

The program, which Muth hopes to get in hospitals in December, will roll out in three phases. It will start in the southeastern part of the state, then southwest, then central.

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