Add To Favorites In PHR

Music and mental health

Idaho State Journal - 9/10/2017

Playing or listening to music can have a significant effect on mood and on our mental health. A certain song can make us feel happy or sad, uplifted or melancholy, relaxed or confident; it too can bring forward a moment or a memory. When it comes to mental health issues, research shows the benefits of music therapy for a host of mental health conditions including, but not limited to, depression, trauma and schizophrenia.

“Because the patients residing in Portneuf’s Behavioral Health Unit often have one, if not all of these symptoms, music was something I believed could be very beneficial,” said Erin Staker, therapeutic recreational intern in the Portneuf Behavioral Health Unit. “Our unit has options for patients to listen to music, i.e. radio and headphones, but we wanted to bring music to the unit in a more interactive way that could not only provide the song, but offer a chance for the patients to receive education and learn a new coping skill. There is a piano and guitar on the unit for patients to use, but they rarely do.”

Staker wanted to create a resource to have on the unit that would include sheet music to play piano, along with guides to learn the basics of playing notes and chords.

Together with her direct supervisor, John Rainey, Recreational Therapist, Laura Payne, CTRS, and Kayla Chappel, LMSW, they decided to get the patients directly involved by starting an Interactive Weekly Variety Show. The variety show encourages patients to use their musical talents if they already possess them or begin to develop this ability for use as a coping skill.

“Our patients look forward to the Variety Show,” said Rainey. “Sometimes they come and engage, other times they sit and enjoy and occasionally, the show is an emotional release.”

Music, in its many forms, has the ability to help process emotions and grief and can calm us when we feel anxious or upset. Studies indicate that in as little as 30 minutes, music can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, as well as psychological disturbances such as auditory hallucinations.

This month, Portneuf’s Behavioral Health Unit celebrates its 15-year anniversary. The team has been through many changes over those 15 years and together they have worked with thousands of patients. It still has three members of the original team — Charlie Assand, Sandra Kluza and John Rainey.

At Portneuf Behavioral Health, finding a balance between mental health and physical well-being is what we all strive for. The goal is to help patients find that sense of balance and, in working together, we seek to enhance quality of life. To best care for mental health needs in our community, we offer professional Emergent, Inpatient and Outpatient Care. For more information visit


Driving Walking/Biking Public Transit  Get Directions