Songs from the heart — journeying towards mental health

Biola’s live music event for Mental Health Awareness Week lights up Fireside Pavilion with student-composed songs.

Senior music therapy major Daisy Perrigan performs an original composition at the concert.

Courtesy of Haven Luper-Jasso

Senior music therapy major Daisy Perrigan performs an original composition at the concert.

Patricia Yang, Staff Writer

In the calm of a clear-skied evening, music floated from the Fireside Pavillion. A little gathering of students huddled in that area, listening to Biola’s live music event for Mental Health Awareness Week. Into the quiet poured out songs of struggles, anxieties, worries and reminders of hope.


The live music event, organized by Wellness Coordinator Melanie Daly, is one of several events for Mental Health Awareness Week. Other events included the Well-Being Playground on Wednesday and Thursday’s Bingo Night. Recognizing the power of music, Daly was inspired to host a live music concert to reach students in ways that normal conversation may not. 

“I believe music and songs can have a huge impact on people,” Daly said. “Song lyrics and melodies can really touch people and resonate with them … [It] makes us feel less alone in what we are experiencing.”

Though Daly does not struggle with any clinical mental illness, she has experienced her share of trials. “I’ve struggled in dark seasons of my life and feeling frustrated with God, and how things were going in my life,” Daly said. “To help get through those times, I’ve had to lean on others to be pointed back to the truth and to be reminded of God’s goodness … My mom used to encourage me to find one small ‘God moment’ each day when I was really struggling.” That advice helped her to get through tough seasons in her life.

Daly said she hopes the live music event strengthens the students through song, just as others have helped her in times of difficulty before. “Don’t go through life alone,” Daly said.  “Lean on others during the good and the bad. Loneliness can be dangerous, so lean on others and remember that other people have felt the same way you do at one point in time. Maybe they have not been through the exact same experience as you, but other people have also felt sad, lonely, depressed and anxious before.“


Daly coordinated with the Peer Wellness Ambassadors to bring this music concert to fruition. Together they compiled a selection of original student compositions highlighting mental health struggles. Daisy Perrigan, a senior music therapy major, and Haven Luper-Jasso, a senior public relations major, sang these songs—in fact, the pieces were composed by the singers. One song Perrigan wrote, titled “I’m Too Much, I’m Too Little,” recounted her experience in light of ADHD, its impact on her life and the back-and-forth conflict within herself. 

“It’s one of my most vulnerable [songs], and I think a lot of people might be able to relate [to it],” said Perrigan.

“Music is so good at expressing things that we’re not able to in words,” Perrigan said. “Hearing songs that describe perfectly how you’re feeling is so helpful when you’re struggling, because you feel very validated … it’s very good at expressing emotions.”

Perrigan intimately knows the slow, uphill journey to overcome mental health problems, for she struggled with anxiety herself. Her battle compelled her to reach out and help others in similar situations with her musical ability. 

“It’s very easy to struggle with mental health and be pretty unstable as a person,” Perrigan said. “But something that helped me a lot was reminding myself that people want to help you … that there are people who do want to listen and that you’re not a burden.” She added, “We are created by a Creator that we can rely on fully … It’s not easy at all to switch your thinking to that … but He is our foundation, and He is the one thing we can trust in.”

Thinking back on her experiences, Perrigan remarked that progress towards mental health is not always linear.

“Progress can look really, really small sometimes, but it’s still progress … if you seem to regress a little bit and struggle again, the previous progress isn’t lost — it’s not disqualified just because you had a bad day or week or month; you’re still able to move past that … Progress can be an up-and-down line, but it’ll still be going upward,” Perrigan said.

The evening sky grew darker with each passing moment; still, music flowed from the Fireside Pavilion and heartfelt singing poured out from within. Daly was happy to create this space for others to join and feel seen. 

“[God] has shown me that we all have unique talents that can be used to glorify Him and serve others,” Daly said. “I love that supporting others can take on many different forms — like a live music event filled with songs about life.”

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