From the study into how an apple could keep memory loss at bay to the musical campaign that's striking a chord with wellbeing, discover four good news stories about mental health and wellbeing

1. Piano music strikes a chord with mental health

Music can be powerful; it has the ability to change a mood, or a room, and can even transport us back in time. Perhaps you’ve personally felt the benefit of putting on some calming music to wind down at the end of a hard day. Suffice to say, music is always there for us, even during the most stressful of times.

In recognition of its therapeutic benefits, the Mental Health Foundation commissioned some anxiety-busting classical music from chart-topping pianist, RIOPY. With personal experience of depression and OCD, RIOPY composed a simple piece, ‘Meditation 111’, as a way of helping people tackle their anxiety – either by listening to it, or learning to play it themselves. The entire piece can be played with three fingers, and takes just one hour to learn, regardless of previous experience.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the piano saved my life,” says RIOPY, who is a self-taught pianist. “I hope that, by sharing this piece with the world, I can bring the restorative power of music to others who are also suffering.”

Mental health affects everyone, and this collaboration is another way of enabling people to explore their feelings, be creative, and share their experiences in a way that includes all. Now that’s music to all our ears.

2. An apple a day could keep memory loss at bay…

That’s according to a new three-year study of 3,562 people aged around 71. The research, published in the journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, found that people who have a diet rich in flavanols – a natural substance that is commonly found in apples, berries, and tea – may be less likely to develop age-related memory loss.

The researchers randomly assigned healthy adults either a daily 500mg flavanol supplement, or a placebo pill, to take for three years. During that time, the participants took several memory tests, as well as filling in surveys that were used to assess their diet.

What the researchers saw was that – although the memory scores only improved very slightly for the group taking the flavanol pill – a subset of that group, who had a poor diet and low flavanol consumption at the start of the study, increased their memory scores by 16% when compared to the start of the study.

Although further research is needed to confirm the link, including MRI scans to establish the relationship between flavanol supplements and the hippocampal function, Scott Small, the study’s lead scientist and a professor of neurology at Columbia University, said that the research was beginning to reveal the ways that different nutrients are needed to fortify our ageing minds. For now, that’s food for thought.

3. New study reveals another approach to gender equality

The goal of gender equality may feel far off for some, but more and more steps are leading us there. And a recent study from the University of Cologne, in Germany, looking into the impact of guidance counselling on gender segregation, has found some promising results.

Carried out by Professor Marita Jacob and researchers from the Berlin Social Science Center, the study found that counselling increased the number of students who selected subjects to study that were not stereotypical for their gender.

“Our analysis reveals that the programme was particularly strong on men’s subject choice. The number of men who chose subjects that are female-dominated doubled once they received counselling,” explains Professor Jacob.

So, why is this important? The hope is that by encouraging more men to study typically ‘female-dominated’ fields, it could help to lessen gender stereotypes, and have a positive effect on women’s decisions.

Professor Jacob talks about the two sides of gender equality, explaining that as well as encouraging women to succeed in male-dominated industries, we can also address the careers of young men in female-dominated industries to promote equality.

To us, this sounds like one small step for men, and one giant leap for humankind.

4. Help end #SunPoverty this summer

As summer approaches, and schools close for the holidays, many families in the UK are faced with a troubling issue. With the cost of living crisis still present, more and more families are unable to afford sunscreen for their children. But, fortunately, the #SunPoverty campaign is shining a light on a solution.

This summer, the campaign will be donating thousands of high-factor SPF sunscreen to primary school children who are entitled to free school meals, in addition to petitioning for children’s sunscreen to be VAT-free. With skin cancer being the fastest-growing cancer in the UK, it’s important that all children are kept safe in the sun, with access to resources that will prevent sunburn, to reduce the likelihood of them developing skin cancer in later life.

Several celebrities have thrown their support behind the campaign, including EastEnders actress Kellie Bright, who said: “As a mother myself to three children, I know how important it is to protect my children’s skin to keep them safe in the sun. I am proud to support this campaign, and hope it can help thousands of families this summer.”

For the many families struggling to make ends meet at the moment, this campaign offers a beacon of hope, and serves as a reminder that we can all come together to make a positive impact.

Want to get involved? For every bottle of Escentual #SunPoverty sunscreen purchased from, it will donate one to a child in need.