MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A therapy program for kids through the University of Minnesota is getting fine-tuned.
A federal study found teenagers have reported a significant increase of depression and anxiety over the last two years.
The songs that come from Lily Erlandson’s mouth reflect the words of her heart. Because, for the Blake School junior, it’s been a brutal two years.
“It’s definitely been hard to be isolated, I guess,” she said.
She’s been diagnosed with anxiety and depression. So Erlandson uses her voice to control the voices in her head.
“It feels like a part of my brain is sort of talking at me all the time and telling me I’m not good enough or you can’t do this and you can’t do that,” Erlandson said.
She’s one of the many patients at the overflowing day treatment center at Masonic Childrens Hospital — teens needing mental health help.
“So we’ve seen that demand just absolutely skyrocket,” music therapist Kendri Ebert said.
“The biggest thing, I guess, is probably music. It’s a thing that I can always go to if I need to express myself or if I need to relax,” Erlandson said. “I love learning new instruments and messing around and I think it’s something that can help a lot of other people here in the program, too, and just people everywhere.”
But the problem is, the day center instruments aren’t exactly finely tuned — they’re about 40 years old.
“Our music therapy program at the hospital is wonderfully old. And with that come old instruments,” Ebert said. “We had drums with spill stains on them. The heads of the drums were bubbling up.”
It’s a troubling situation that caught the attention of a local man whose gotten a lot of attention himself for his 15 years in the NHL.
“For these kids to have a creative outlet to express themselves, whatever journey they are on, going through tough times, just to find something that they connect with is really important,” retired NHL star Paul Martin said.
Sports was his own outlet. Now he funnels his passion into Shine a Light, a nonprofit he leads to support kids’ mental health.
His team donated new instruments to Erlandson and her peers, to the tune of $5,000.
“Hopefully it gets kids through tough times and through good times and they get to learn a little bit about themselves and what’s going on inside of them,” Martin said.
By the looks of things — and the sound of things — they are feeling it.
“We are very appreciative of this instrumentation update because it was very, very necessary to provide our patients with the highest quality music that we can,” Ebert said.
Because around here, music is medicine.
We’ve shared more about Paul Martin’s Shine a Light Foundation, and Masonic Hospital’s youth counseling programs on WCCO.com.