You know that song that brightens your day, the one you can count on to put you in a better mood? Gifts from Fairview Foundation are helping put those songs in the hands of children in the behavioral health unit at University of Minnesota Medical Center when they need it most.
Children are admitted to the behavioral health unit when they’re considered a danger to themselves or others. They typically stay for seven days and work on stress management skills using a variety of tools, including music.
“Music therapy is a huge mood improver for our kids,” says Jessica Lee, music therapist at the medical center. “We’re using music to help kids with anxiety and panic disorders relax when things are tough. It’s big, because they don’t realize it’s a coping skill, and it will always be there for them—even when they go home.”
Music therapy in the unit takes many forms, including adaptive piano or guitar lessons, drum circles and therapeutic song listening. Thanks to gifts made to Fairview Foundation’s Paul Barry Fund, patients now have new music technology in their hands to meet clinical needs.
Funds were used to purchase 16 new Apple iPods for the unit, loaded with music therapy apps and songs children relate to. Patients can borrow an iPod to listen to songs to help them relax when they are sad, angry or nervous.
“I might play a song for a child with self-esteem issues, and it will help them feel better,” Jessica says. “We’ll have discussions about the song, what it’s triggering inside of them and what else they can listen to help them calm down.”
Having updated technology is showing benefits as patients use it during the course of their treatment.
“Children are so used to using technology, but we take most of it away in treatment,” says Karen Wendt, adolescent and child behavioral program director. “Now we’re able to give it back to them with a plan to use music and the apps as a form of therapy. We’re excited to use this fund for something so advanced.”
In fact, the project would’ve thrilled Paul Barry himself, his sister says.
Paul Barry was a psychiatric associate on the same unit at the medical center while he was studying to be a social worker at the University of Minnesota. The fund, set up in his honor after he passed in a car accident in 1986, reflects a family tradition of helping children in distress. His father was a psychiatrist in the same unit, and his sister Franny still works in the behavioral health intake department today.
“This project is a perfect way to honor Paul in so many ways,” says Franny Barry, behavioral health intake coordinator. “Paul loved his Apple computer, he loved music, and he loved his job on the unit helping children.”