Young people's uses of music for well-being

The period between 15 and 25 years is characterised by much personal change and is the peak age of onset of mental health problems. This prompts an interest in everyday strategies that young people might use to support their well-being. Music use is the preferred leisure activity among young people yet little is known about how music is linked to well-being in this population. This study aimed to develop and test a model of the relationships between young people's use of music and their well-being, drawing on theories from the music psychology and clinical psychology fields. A qualitative analysis of transcripts from focus groups with 11 participants aged 15–25 years revealed four ways in which music listening links with well-being: relationship building, modifying emotions, modifying cognitions and emotional immersion. These linking variables were operationalised using questionnaire scores and tested on a new sample of 107 young people. Results of a multiple mediation analysis revealed that music listening was significantly related to all four linking variables, but not directly related to well-being as measured by the Mental Health Continuum. Nevertheless, the four linking variables indirectly mediated the effect of music listening on social well-being. The findings are consistent with earlier research on the role of music in emotion regulation and social connection although there are clearly other factors involved in determining young peoples' well-being. These findings will help inform music-based interventions for young people.

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