The healing hand of music

Music therapy for mental health patients has become a big thing across the world.

Bola Otegbayo, a scientist, has brought the therapy to the psychiatric unit at University College hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria.

Otegbayo is also what is known as a musicologist – an expert in treating patients with music.

Once or twice a month, she brings a team of singers and musicians for the patients.

Otegbayo, pictured above, told The Guardian her stories of success:

  •  A patient who wasn’t responding started tapping his toes to the beat, then jumped up and danced
  •  Two women moving together to Michael Bolton’s version of Lean on Me. 

Otegbayo, who has a degree in physics and in music, says “It’s not [something] any musician can do. You don’t just do it and go. You need to observe them as well.”

Music can also cause distress, she explains, so you have to watch carefully, after being professionally trained.

While little known in Nigeria, music therapy is now taught in South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, and America.