The State of Music-Based Interventions for Mental Illness: Thought Leaders on Barriers, Opportunities, and the Value of Interdisciplinarity

Tasha L. Golden, Laura Tetreault, Caitlin E. Ray, Maria Nagae Kuge, Alyssa Tiedemann, Susan Magsamen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hundreds of studies regarding music's effects on mental health have accumulated across multiple disciplines; however, access to and application of music as a support for mental health remains limited, due in part to the multidisciplinary nature of related research and difficulties synthesizing findings. This qualitative study is the first to address these barriers by gathering current thought leaders and stakeholders at intersections of music and mental health, representing multiple disciplines and backgrounds, to (1) document understandings of and recommendations for the field, and (2) examine how views converge or conflict. Participants (n = 36) viewed preliminary results of a global scoping review, then engaged in focus groups which were transcribed and de-identified for analysis. An interdisciplinary research team coded and iteratively analyzed transcripts. Six themes emerged: Barriers to Quality/Improved Research, Disciplinary Differences, Research Recommendations, Implementation and Access, Public Perception and Education, and Need for Training. Discussions offered wide-ranging observations and recommendations while revealing challenges and opportunities related to interdisciplinary work. Findings indicate broad agreement regarding current barriers and opportunities at intersections of music and mental health. While highlighting challenges, participants also indicated multiple avenues for advancing research quality, intervention effectiveness, and equitable access to music as a support for mental health. Responding to the study’s illumination of the benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary work, four brief recommendations are offered to support future efforts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunity Mental Health Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Interdisciplinary
  • Mental health
  • Mental illness
  • Music
  • Qualitative
  • Transdisciplinary

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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