A study from the University of Australia, published in a recent issue of Journal of Community Psychology, suggests that the heavy metal music is beneficial to mental health.
Written by Australian psychologists Paula Rowe and Bernard Guerin, the study, titled “Contextualizing the Mental Health of Metal Youth: A Community for Social Protection, Identity, and Musical Empowerment,” draws from researchers’ repeated, informal interviews with 28 young, Australian metalheads (23 men and five women). Based on these discussions, the researchers found that the metal identities and community actually helped insulate them from — rather than cause — mental health problems.
Four core themes were found from transcripts: they were all bullied or marginalized through social relationships at school; they enjoyed the impact of metal music and lyrics when angry or ostracized; they felt part of a protective community of metalheads, even though in many cases at this age it was more imagined than real; and embodying metal identities enabled them to keep bullies, detractors, and others at bay, and to find friend groups. By talking repeatedly, directly with young metalheads, it was found that metal identities were helping participants to survive the stress of challenging environments and build strong and sustained identities and communities, thus alleviating any potential mental health issues.
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