Anxiety and depression are growing problems worldwide, and the massive disruption of mental health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for more accessible and convenient digital tools for mental health care. Music therapy has been recognized as an effective non-invasive treatment for mental illnesses, but little research has been done on the therapeutic effects of active music therapy in digital formats. This paper investigates the effectiveness of active music therapy in a music rhythm game format for improving mood and examines the impact of five different song sequencing methods (random, all-relaxed, all-upbeat, upbeat-to-relaxed, and relaxed-to-upbeat) on therapeutic outcomes. Listening tests were conducted with 89 subjects (all university students in Hong Kong) to analyze changes in valence and arousal. The results indicate that all proposed song sequencing methods positively increased arousal levels, while all methods, except all-upbeat, significantly increased valence levels. All-relaxed and all-upbeat gave the best increase in arousal. Upbeat-to-relaxed and relaxed-to-upbeat gave the best increase in valence. All-relaxed and upbeat-to-relaxed were most effective in increasing both arousal and valence. The study also found that tailored recommendations based on subjects’ initial arousal and valence levels and levels of anxiety and depression can further improve therapeutic outcomes.

This content is only available via PDF.