Mental Illness & Music

Mental illness is something that many people deal with. It’s even more common among musicians, and often more severe. Multiple studies found that two in five musicians have recently experienced clinically significant anxiety and depression (which is almost twice the rate of the general population). For music students at universities and conservatories, this number is as high as three in five.

Below is a list of resources for people living with mental illnesses (especially musicians), their families, their music teachers, and those who support them.


National Alliance on Mental Illness (

National Institute of Mental Health (

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (

American Psychiatric Association (

Mental Health America (

Call to Mind (


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (988)

741-741 Crisis Text Line

NAMI Helpline (800-950-6265) or text “Helpline” to 62640

NAMI Helpline Resource Directory (


You Are Not Alone: The NAMI Guide to Navigating Mental Health by Ken Duckworth, MD

Teaching the Whole Musician: A Guide to Wellness in the Applied Studio by Paola Savvidou

Sound Mind: My Bipolar Journey from Chaos to Composure by Erika Nielsen

50 Ways to More Calm, Less Stress: Scientifically Proven Ways to Relieve Anxiety and Boost Your Mental Health Using Your Five Senses by Megy Karydes

The Inner Game of Music by Barry Green and W. Timothy Gallwey

The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez

Hear the Music: Memoirs from the Sister of the Soloist by Jennifer Ayers-Moore

Touched with Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament by Kay Redfield Jamison

An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison

BrainStorm: From Broken to Blessed on the Bipolar Spectrum by Sara Schley

No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America by Ron Powers 

While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence by Meg Kissinger 

Love That Boy: What Two Presidents, Eight Road Trips, and My Son Taught Me About a Parent’s Expectations by Ron Fournier

Healing: Our Path from Mental Illness to Mental Health by Thomas Insel, MD

Mental Health Emergencies: A Guide to Recognizing and Handling Mental Health Crises by Nick Benas, QMHA, and Michele Hart, LCSW

Bipolar, Not So Much: Understanding Your Mood Swings and Depression by Chris Aiken, MD, and James Phelps, MD

Bipolar Disorder: A Guide for You and Your Loved Ones by Francis Mark Mondimore, MD

Apps and Videos

Orchestrating Change, documentary about Me2/Orchestra (distributed by Bullfrog Films)

Wellness at University of Michigan, YouTube playlist (

CALM app

Stop, Breathe, Think app

Other Tools

Screening Tool, Mental Health America (

Mental Illness & Addiction Index, Center for Addiction & Mental Health (

Mental Health Resource Center, The Jed Foundation (

Depression Center Toolkit, Eisenberg Family Depression Center at University of Michigan (

Faculty Toolkit, University of Michigan (

Wellness Toolbox, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (

Well-being Toolkit, University of Michigan (