WHOEVER said music is good for the soul wasn’t wrong.

You know that feeling you get when you hear your favourite song? It’s uplifting and gives you an instant sense of well-being.

What many have felt intuitively is now increasingly being backed by science: music can be good for your health.

And this is why a Peebles charity is reaching out to people suffering with mental health problems, offering music as a therapy that will give them something to dance about.

Nomad Beat is breaking through the barriers of mental health and will be the first charity in Tweeddale to use music therapy to help those with mental health conditions.

The ‘Mind the Music’ project will bring together at least 24 people with mental health issues enabling them to meet and to build confidence, self-esteem and lasting community relationships.

Speaking to the Peeblesshire News about the exciting new project, Ruth Kirby, Nomad Beat’s service manager said: “We want to reduce social isolation and increase confidence, building music in as one of their tools to cope.

“We discussed the idea with a group of existing and past pupils who have previously tried one-to-one lessons. They said that they found it difficult to come to lessons and to pay when they do come. All expressed an interest in being part of a group sessions and for lessons to be more affordable. They enjoyed the idea of not only exploring how music could be part of their well-being plan, but also the realisation that they would be in a group where they would not need to hide their issues and where they could enjoy making new friends.”

Mental health services recognise that music is a powerful emotional tool, and are backing Nomad Beat’s project to help people on their journey to happiness and mental wellbeing.

“We discussed the project with the NHS Occupational Therapist who makes referrals to Nomad Beat as part of individual well-being plans,” explained Ruth. “She confirmed the need to reach more people, and that the people who could benefit most were least able to pay, even when it had proved beneficial to their health and that she had a number of potential referrals excluded through being unable to pay.”

Nomad Beat was recently awarded a grant of £30,000 from the Robertson Trust which will get the project off the ground by funding salaries for tutors.

But to enable those with mental health problems to march to the beat of their own drum and push through those mental barriers which hinder their lives, the charity has applied to Awards for All for funding.

Describing a typical session, Ruth told us that classes will be developed by participants themselves, dependent on their interests and abilities. “It may include a welcome with live music on arrival, group music making and singing as a means of expression, trying out instruments for the first time, making your own music and writing lyrics, developing existing musical talent and using music to alter and enhance mood.”

But it doesn’t end there, as each session will finish with practitioner-led relaxation meditation to music.

Research is showing that music can have positive effects on both physical and mental health, and in some cases, can be more effective than prescription drugs.

The question is what do patients battling with mental health problems think of music as therapy for their conditions.

One local who wishes to remain anonymous, said: “As someone with ongoing mental health issues, I know how easy it is to feel stuck at home and how difficult is it to finance things that might benefit me. This project would provide a way to meet others struggling with similar issues, and allow me to access music-making to improve my well-being and mental health in a relaxed atmosphere.”

If you are looking for an easy way to transform your mood and get in tune with the emotional life we often keep hidden, it may be time to dip into the bank of songs within.

For local people battling more serious mental health conditions, it could just be that this Peebles-based charity hits the right note to unleash musical healing powers that transform lives.