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'Landmark' trial for music therapy in children's mental health

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Queen’s University Belfast is to play a major role in the biggest trial ever conducted to investigate how music therapy can help children and young people with severe mental health problems.

Researchers from the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s will work on the landmark project with Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust (NIMTT), a charity providing music therapy services to people with disabilities and disorders who have profound communication difficulties.

NIMTT has been awarded £326,164 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Research programme, to carry out Music in Mind - the largest study ever undertaken into the effects of music therapy on children and young people with severe mental health problems - with Queen’s.

The therapy will be trialled over a three year period on over 200 children and young people to test whether it improves their communication, self-confidence and self-esteem.

The Queen’s research team is being led by Professor Sam Porter.

Professor Porter said: “The role of the Queen’s research team is to take an impartial and objective look at whether or to what extent music therapy improves the communication skills of children with severe mental health problems.

“Research to date has not been able to conclusively answer these questions so this is why the Queen’s trial is of such importance.

“The Music in Mind trial is by far the largest ever conducted in this area. Its size means that it will be able to generate results in which commissioners and practitioners of health care can have confidence.

“It is a landmark in the scientific investigation of music therapy. Given that music therapy is practiced around the world, the significance of its results will be global.

“Through our dynamic partnership with the Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust, we have the opportunity to position the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Queen’s as the world-leader in this very important area of health care research.”

The funding is part of a grants roll-out of over £20m across the UK from the Big Lottery Fund’s Research programme which supports high quality social and medical research projects across the UK.

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