Music therapy coming to Pennsylvania health care workers struggling with their mental health


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

Many health care workers who have been involved in caring for COVID-19 patients have said they are exhausted, depressed, have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and are just feeling burned out.

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

It started with an idea from Michelle Muth — a Slippery Rock grad who is co-chair on the Pennsylvania Task Force for Music Therapy.

Music therapy helps someone express feelings they might not be able to express verbally. It can be with instruments, singing, songwriting and a variety of music genres.

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

The goal is to give health care workers what they’ve been giving their patients for the past year-and-a-half.

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

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

She said music therapy has been around since World War II, but it’s taken off recently.

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

A lot has changed in a year. This time last year, frontline workers were being honored and people were doing different things to show their appreciation. Muth said now, it’s like we’ve taken them for granted.

“Because they’re still working,” Muth said. “The pandemic is not gone, unfortunately, and there’s still — after every war, there’s always post-traumatic stress and trauma. So there’s aftermath. When you get through crisis, adrenaline is going in the crisis, then it goes away. Then you’re dealing with the repercussions.”

This is only for hospitals in the Hospital and Health System Association of Pennsylvania. Hospitals can apply for grants and get connected with a music therapist.

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

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