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Me(n)tal Health Focus: Heavy Metal Therapy Answers our Questions

We are all metabolizing mental wellbeing in unique ways. Some of us find comfort in music and we often utilize music, consciously or unconsciously to match or alter our mood. 

The Metal Digest Crew had a chat with the all mighty Heavy Metal Therapy Team to address questions about the effect of metal music on our mental well-being and offer factual foundations to fuel further food for thought and transmit positive feelings onto our community.

If you were to relay to one who is not versed in the genre of Metal how would you explain the harsh extremities of the genre which can be seen as comforting to a fan while to an outsider one may be perplexed into how such noise can be discerned as a cathartic experience?

Justin Joseph

Heavy Metal Therapy: People are drawn to extreme music for all kinds of reasons; indeed, it may be that the relative harshness of it is part of the appeal.  Metal can offer people a way of matching the energy of the extreme emotions they may be experiencing.  For example, it can be a way of turning towards things like anger, and have a validating element if people relate to the lyrics.  Unlike many other genres of music, metal often refers to challenging experiences, including mental health themes – this might be one of few times people have heard music or even others referencing their experiences.  Finally, there is a paradox that a lot of metal fans report, that metal music calms them down, which is not what you might expect from listening to it.  There is some theory/research that extreme music can help with emotional processing, which could be one way that this process works.

“Studies show that listening to Heavy Metal releases endorphins in a similar way as exercise do you enjoy mixing the two together, and is the exercise more effective as a consequence?”

James Turner

Heavy Metal Therapy: I reckon the combination of metal and exercise is called moshing 😉

But yeah, there could be a similar process, and a lot of our followers talk about the role of exercise in maintaining wellbeing.  I think that there is some evidence that working out to music is more impactful (though I am not sure if that is metal specifically).  However, I would say that heavy metal music might have an additional benefit to exercise in terms of supporting emotional processing (whether you are working out or not).

Please tell us about any important activities or projects that you’ve been involved with recently.

Metal Digest

Heavy Metal Therapy: We work both as a project in our own right and in collaboration with others.  We have recently set up some peer support groups online so people can interact with us and each other in the community.  We are also working on a podcast/radio show about metal and mental health and are dedicating December to building up our community. Check out Dismember December!

 Now that live events are​ back, we hope to have a physical presence at more of them, we did our first stall recently and it was cool to meet so many that said how much metal music has helped them.

Do you find that music is a cost-effective intervention for low-resource settings that can be delivered in settings where resources are scarce?

Chelf Dortlouke

Heavy Metal Therapy: Interesting question.  Lots of people find hope and support through engagement with music, music communities, and things like art, films, and other creative stuff.  However, that is not a substitute for services, which provide something else in ‘addition to’ rather than ‘instead of’.  Although we called it ‘therapy’, our project is more about the day-to-day engagement with music, that we would not call an ‘intervention’ as such (that’s different from things like music therapy which are formal interventions involving music).  Indeed, I would be cautious about suggesting that something could be a low-cost substitute for something like formal therapy in case anyone got the impression that this is what we would promote. Of course, people do find solace when resources are scarce in other coping strategies, and music can have a role in that, but it’s not the same thing.

We will keep the conversation going and we will be sharing interviews, playlists, articles and resources so stay tuned for more!

Come on in!

Metal Digest is an online music magazine specializing in rock and metal. It is aimed at the mobile market, who can get their fix whilst on the go. Whether you walk, drive, fly, sail or teleport make sure you do it with Metal Digest, bitesize heavy metal rock and metal news, reviews and interviews for when you’re on the go.

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