I just read an article featuring Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead. The focus was on his experience using music and drumming to help him and others heal. His work now centers on using drumming as a means for helping children with mental illness move beyond their pain and isolation, allowing them to positively connect to the world around them. This link provides a nice video description of Mickey's work.
When I was in my darkest hours of mental illness, it was music, especially rhythmic music, that got me through. I would sit listening to my favorite songs from the 1960s and 70s and use these to calmly transition from anxiety and despair to feelings of gratitude and light-heartedness. I have always known in my heart that this transformation would not have been possible for me without music.
In looking back, it wasn't the words by themselves, it was the effect of the musical experience - the words, the rhythms, the artistry all combined that enabled my brain to change from an unhealthy state of dread and confusion to one of self-sufficiency. Through music, I found beauty in the outside world and began to regain my health. I was able to pursue a life where work and friends began replacing the trauma of a disease I had had no control over.
Here's an article about Mickey's views on drumming And another link to the video of Mickey working with children. Thank you Mickey for spreading the word!