Moody Tunes to harness power of music

Music’s ability to influence our moods is a familiar phenomenon. Many of us enjoy listening to music while we work, drive, exercise or complete tasks such as housework, experiencing how music can relax, energise, lift our spirits, or alternatively, lower our mood.

Led by Dr Sandra Garrido, researchers at Western Sydney University’s MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development and School of Psychology have harnessed the power of music to impact our moods. The team have developed Moody Tunes - an interactive smartphone app aimed at young people that recommends music proven to lift their moods.

People aged 15 to 25 listen to five to ten hours of music per day, an amount which increases during episodes of depression. Drawing upon evidence-based psychological therapies and over a decade of research, Moody Tunes works in the background as people using the app listen to music in Spotify. Prompting participants to record the influence the music has on their moods, Moody Tunes creates playlists of the music they enjoy which will best support their wellbeing.

“Music choices are highly individual. Therefore, our research has shown that the best strategy for helping young people use music more effectively is to help them select their own music - with greater awareness of the impact their choices can have on their mental health.”

As people living in Western Sydney tend to experience high rates of depression, it is expected that Moody Tunes will be particularly relevant for young people living in the region. With one in 35 young people in Australia experiencing depression, the ultimate aim of Moody Tunes’ developers is to arm young people with better skills for managing their mental health. Tragically, suicide is the leading cause of death of people aged 15-24 in Australia today.

In terms of raising awareness of the app, Dr Garrido says: “While we do hope that GPs and Psychologists will refer young people to use our app, our partnerships with the Mental Health Commission of NSW, the NSW Ministry of Health, and Black Dog Institute give us a unique opportunity to liaise with organisations that will deliver the app directly to young people."

Thanks to generous support from the NSW Mental Health Commission, Moody Tunes is expected to be available to download by the end of the year.

Published September 2021