23. Jessica Villa: Soundtracks to Shatter the Silence

How many people worldwide do you think are living with mental illness?

Recently, I was surprised to learn that approximately 450 million people worldwide are living with a mental illness. The reason I was surprised is, I believe, a result of the stigma around mental illness. In other words, it doesn’t come up in conversation nearly as often as it would in a culture that treats mental illness with the sensitivity, severity, and care that we handle physical ailments.

I know of many organizations working to end the stigma, but I can only think of one specifically using the power of music to raise global awareness on mental health issues and empower people with mental illness through music.

Jessica Villa is the Founder of Superbands and her explanation when asked “Why Superbands” is powerful: "At 23, I have experienced my fair share of difficult times, and have also seen the people around me struggle with their inner demons, but one thing that never fails is the positive impact of music."

She continues, writing, "My hopes for Superbands is to create a global phenomenon, shedding light on the resilience and strength that lies within every single person."

I believe in Jessica’s mission and, as a result, I’ve had the honor of being a guest author for a phenomenal blog which has produced numerous messages of hope, stories of suicide prevention advocacy, and personal accounts that show the reader that they are not alone. I believe in Jessica’s mission because I’ve seen her belief in the power of music in action, witnessing survivors of trauma turning to music for comfort in some of the most turbulent times.

For more on Superbands, Jessica and the work she’s doing, visit superbands.org or read about “How One Woman is Changing the Way We Approach Mental Illness” in Conscious Magazine or in Mavenly, Hit the Gem, the Couragemakers Podcast and countless publications. Keep an eye out for Jessica and her work as she keeps impacting to the beat of her own playlist.

Matthew Scott