Some good news came from the medical community recently. New recommendations have been made regarding screening adults for depression. Why is this good news for moms raising kids with mental illness (MI)? Because the news is elevating awareness about the prevalence of depression. Those whose lives are impacted by a loved one with depression need not feel so alone. Several reporters highlighted the need to remove the stigma surrounding MI.
The time has come to raise awareness:
USA TODAY published an article January 26th about the new guidelines for depression screening in adults. Liz Szabo shared those guidelines in her article, “Task Force: Doctors should screen all adults for depression.”
In that article, Szabo included this quote from one of the task force members.
“‘We’re hoping that our screening guidelines are an impetus to increase awareness that depression is common, it’s painful, it’s costly and it’s treatable,’ said Karina Davidson, a member of the task force and a psychologist in the department of psychiatry at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.”
The new guidelines also addressed depression in pregnant mothers. That has prompted discussions about the difference between baby blues and clinical depression that can follow the birth of a child. So, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about emotions.
When I taught second graders, I planned several class reinforcement activities. Often the entire class deserved to be rewarded. Instead of handing out stickers, I preferred to involve my students in fun mini-lessons. One of those was an art/music activity.
“Use your crayons to draw on your paper a design that matches the music being played,” I’d instruct.
I’d start by playing a slow, classical song. The students would move their hands slowly across their papers. Even their bodies would sway gently to the music.
Then, I’d switch to a fast, lively tune. That would trigger an instant shift in mood. Suddenly, I’d have 25 bouncing beans for students—all with heads like bobble heads. They’d make short, jerking strokes on their papers.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to shift our child’s mood so easily?
A Biblical Example of Emotional Relief:
There’s one person in the Bible who could ease a king’s torment.
1 Samuel 16:14-16 sets the stage:
“Now the Spirit of the Lord had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. Saul’s attendants said to him, ‘See, an evil spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord command his servants here to search for someone who can play the lyre. He will play when the evil spirit from God comes on you, and you will feel better.’”
God used David to sooth Saul’s torment.
“Whenever the spirit from God came on Saul, David would take up his lyre and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him” (1 Samuel 16:23).
The Power of Music:
Can music be that powerful? It absolutely can be used to minister to a depressed child. I’m not advocating that it be the only strategy used to help a child who is depressed. A multi-disciplinary approach to treatment is necessary, where a team of specialists treat the mind and body. Skilled therapists or counselors can provide encouragement and teach coping strategies. In addition, a psychiatrist can prescribe medication to treat the neurophysiological cause for the depression.
We know it’s also important to address the spiritual well-being of our children. God is in the business of meeting those needs. He answers our prayers and faithfully fulfills His promises. In addition, the Bible gives us another tool to comfort our emotionally fragile children.
His Word is full of references to music. Click here for a list of some of those verses: Music Verses
You look at your child’s despondent face, void of expression, and wonder if playing worship songs will help restore joy. You hope it can provide relief like David’s music did for Saul. I believe it can calm turbulent emotions.
Let me share another anecdote that illustrates the power of music. Years ago, I was the Bible instructor and Assistant Director for an overnight Christian camp for handicapped children. Each summer children with a variety of special needs attended our camp for one week. Campers were assigned to groups according to their age and disabilities. One group consisted of young elementary age boys who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). To say they were a handful to manage would be an understatement! Their schedule included a mid-day nap or resting period. Not only did those active kids need it, but so did their counselors.
Their senior counselor came to me one day seeking help. His bleary eyes reminded me of how mine looked when I’d pull an all-nighter studying at college.
“The boys won’t sleep or even rest during nap period. PLEASE, you gotta help,” he begged.
“I’ll stop by their cottage during nap period,” I promised.
Later that day, I headed toward their cottage. Before I could see the cottage, I could hear music playing loudly. The closer I got to the cottage, the more I realized the sound was coming from their room. The blasting music had a fast drumbeat. It was the kind of music you’d play at a wedding to get the guests up on their feet to dance. Surely not the kind of music you’d play to help hyperactive children drift off to sleep!
I entered the cottage and unplugged the boom box. I left with the boom box under my arm, calmly assuring the counselor, “You shouldn’t have any more problems.” And he didn’t.
That story shows how music can drastically improve the behavior of children with special needs. If it can be such a powerful behavior-management tool, surely it can calm emotions. Especially worship songs that tell of God’s love and faithfulness. Like Matt Reddman’s song ‘Your Grace Finds Me.’ Allow his lyrics minister to you: