Mental Healthcare and the Pandemic

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have only exacerbated worrying mental health trends, leading to an increased urgency for innovation in mental healthcare approaches and provision. 

The dire need for innovation in mental health and the potential offered by experiential therapies has been previously laid out in this article.

Key Takeaways:

  • COVID-19 has disrupted or halted mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide.¹

  • Compared to 2019, US adults are more than three times as likely to screen positive for depressive disorders or anxiety disorders - with one in three screening positive for one or both.²

  • We must explore new paradigms of care in order to meet the increasing demands and complex needs of mental health globally.

  • For now, at least, mental health and well-being treatment will require a digital, remote component. 

  • Experience music as psychedelic therapy remotely by booking a Wavepaths Deep Listening session.

A perfect storm

Even prior to COVID-19, mental health conditions were becoming increasingly prevalent, accounting for about 13% of the global burden of disease.³ Following a long term global underinvestment in mental health, our ability to respond to, and recover from the many impacts of the pandemic is stress-inducing in and of itself. Therefore, in order to minimise global impact, it is paramount that unmet mental health needs are adressed. ³

The pandemic has increased both the need for, and barriers to access support. Physical distancing measures among other factors have increased levels of anxiety, depression, stress, loneliness and impaired sleep, whilst at the same time limiting access to in-person therapeutic interventions, traditional therapeutic outlets and support systems. ⁴ ¹⁵

"Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way."

- Edward de Bono

Rethinking pathways of care through music

2020 began with many uncertainties, and a few months into our national lockdowns one thing became clear; that the world was changing in a multitude of ways and this was increasingly likely to impact our own lives. 

While the pandemic has restricted freedoms, music offers an outlet of internal exploration that is always available to us: an accessible, alternative approach for supporting mental health and wellbeing at home. Recent research supports this notion, showing that music was universally effective for achieving goals related to well-being during the pandemic, and that music listening was one of the activities whose importance increased most during lockdowns for facilitating emotional regulation. ¹⁶ ¹⁷

In an attempt to cater to some of these changing needs and continue to support our community virtually, we at Wavepaths decided to make a profound shift towards prioritising remote experiences. 

Wavepaths Deep Listening

Born out of research into the role of music in psychedelic therapy, Wavepaths’ Deep Listening sessions are designed to facilitate emotional reconnection and release, relaxation and autobiographical insight through music.

The arc of the music journey is curated for participants by a trained Wavepaths guide. Each experience is completely unique, composed of music from world-class artists carefully designed to support specific therapeutic processes, and rendered in real-time by Wavepaths' generative music system. 

Our challenge lay in being able to replicate the personalised, adaptive, fully immersive experiences with music remotely. Initial reports emphasise positive experiences of remote Deep Listening sessions:

Profound, unexpected and sonically beautiful.

A massage for the brain.

A time to relax. A tool to facilitate insight. A feeling of connectedness.

Final thoughts

The pandemic has compounded mental health trends and brought attention to the efficacy and accessibility of current treatments, catalysing the development of alternative approaches and remote models of care.

“2021 will be the time that a spotlight is cast on the limitations of current mental-health care treatments, and bold alternatives are highlighted." Wavepaths advisor Robin Carhart-Harris in Wired ¹⁸

Experience Wavepaths Deep Listening for yourself by joining a weekly guided session. 

Book today

Wavepaths is committed to progressing the scientific evidence base for music, both for and as psychedelic therapy. If you are interested in developing this field of research as a therapist, psychedelic therapist, facilitator or guide and using Wavepaths music in your practice, sign up for our therapist beta here.

Participation gives you access to our therapist tool and educational platform: a private social network focused on progressing this field of research and practice together.

  1. COVID-19 Disrupting Mental Health Services in Most Countries, WHO Survey

  2. Twenge, Jean M., and Thomas E. Joiner. "US Census Bureau‐assessed prevalence of anxiety and depressive symptoms in 2019 and during the 2020 COVID‐19 pandemic." Depression and anxiety 37.10 (2020): 954-956.

  3. Diseases, The Lancet Infectious. "The intersection of COVID-19 and mental health." The Lancet. Infectious Diseases(2020).

  4. Salari, Nader, et al. "Prevalence of stress, anxiety, depression among the general population during the COVID-19 pandemic: a systematic review and meta-analysis." Globalization and health 16.1 (2020): 1-11.

  5. Dagnino, P., Anguita, V., Cifuentes, S., & Escobar, K. (2020). Psychological Effects of Social 647 Isolation due to Quarantine in Chile: an exploratory study. Frontiers in Psychiatry.

  6. Dawel, A., Shou, Y., Smithson, M., Cherbuin, N., Banfield, M., Calear, A. L., ... & Mccallum, S. M. (2020). The effect of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing in a representative sample of Australian adults. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 1026

  7. Franceschini, C., Musetti, A., Zenesini, C., Palagini, L., Pelosi, A., Quattropani, M. C., Lenzo, V., Freda, M. F., Lemmo, D., Vegni, E., Borghi, L. Saita, E., Cattivelli, R., De Gennaro, L., Plazzi, G., Riemann, D., & Castelnuovo, G. (2020). Poor sleep quality and its consequences on mental health during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.574475

  8. Groarke, J. M., Berry, E., Graham-Wisener, L., McKenna-Plumley, P. E., McGlinchey, E., & Armour, C. (2020). Loneliness in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic: Cross-sectional results from the COVID-19 Psychological Wellbeing Study. PLOS ONE, 15(9), e0239698.

  9. Hur, J., Smith, J. F., DeYoung, K. A., Anderson, A. S., Kuang, J., Kim, H. C., Tillman, R. M., Kuhn, M., Fox, A. S., & Shackman, A. J (2020). Anxiety and the neurobiology of temporally uncertain threat anticipation. The Journal of Neuroscience, 40(41): 7949-7964.

  10. Lenzo, V., Quattropani, M. C., Musetti, A., Zenesini, C., Freda, M. F., Lemmo, D., ... & Cattivelli, R. (2020). Resilience contributes to low emotional impact of the COVID-19 outbreak among the general population in Italy. Frontiers in Psychology. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.576485

  11. Lippold, J. V., Laske, J. I., Hogeterp, S. A., Duke, É., Grünhage, T., & Reuter, M. (2020). The role of personality, political attitudes and socio-demographic characteristics in explaining individual differences in fear of Coronavirus: A comparison over time and across countries. Frontiers in Psychology.

  12. Parlapani, E., Holeva, V., Voitsidis, P., Blekas, A., Gliatas, I., Porfyri, G. N., ... & Bairachtari, V. (2020). Psychological and behavioural responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in Greece. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11,

  13. Rajkumar, R. P. (2020). COVID-19 and mental health: A review of the existing literature. Asian Journal of Psychiatry, 102066.

  14. Rodríguez-Rey, R., Garrido-Hernansaiz, H., & Collado, S. (2020). Psychological impact and associated factors during the initial stage of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic among the general population in Spain. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1540

  15. Rossi, A., Panzeri, A., Pietrabissa, G., Manzoni, G. M., Castelnuovo, G., & Mannarini, S. (2020). The anxiety-buffer hypothesis in the time of COVID-19: when self-esteem protects from loneliness and fear for anxiety and depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 10.

  16. Granot, Roni, et al. "" Help! I Need Somebody": Music as a Global Resource for Obtaining Wellbeing Goals in Times of Crisis." (2021).

  17. Fink, Lauren, et al. "Viral Tunes: Changes in musical behaviours and interest in coronamusic predict socio-emotional coping during COVID-19 lockdown." (2021).

  18. Carhart- Harris (2021). Big pharma is about to tune in to the potential of psychedelics