Wellbeing Wednesday 13th April 2022

Jane Fowler

Hello everyone and happy Wednesday! I hope you are all looking forward to a few days off and some Easter Eggs this weekend. Even though my family are adults now, the temptation to buy lots of chocolate remains strong….mostly because I enjoy eating it myself!

This week we are highlighting voices and vocal health. We’ve talked in the past about good communication and how it can keep us well, but if speaking doesn’t come easily, then that basic need to communicate with others can be hard. We have information for you explaining some of the challenges of stuttering and where to find support.

And don’t forget that singing is a great way to use your voice to improve your wellbeing. It doesn’t matter if you are good at it or not, singing by yourself to music or joining a singing group or choir can reduce stress, improve your breathing and ward off illness – and it is fun! (Well in my case, fun for me if not for those within earshot!). It would be good to hear from any of you who are in a choir or singing group – you can even send us a recording!

And for those of you following my less screen time, more reading challenge – I’m really enjoying the Jackie Baldwin whodunit ‘Avenge the Dead’. Nothing like a good murder mystery to lure me off Twitter. See you next week!

Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services

World Voice Day - 16th April

World Voice Day is observed annually on April 16 and celebrates the phenomenon of voice. It encourages people to assess their vocal health and take action to improve or maintain their good voice habits.

World Voice Day aims to bring to the notice of the world the need of preventing voice problems and highlighting issues affecting the voice. 

There are many things that can affect the voice and how we communicate.

Speech Disorders

Speech disorders can affect the way a person creates sounds to form words. Certain voice disorders may also be considered speech disorders.

One of the most commonly experienced speech disorders is stuttering.

Other speech disorders include apraxia and dysarthria.

  • Apraxia is a motor speech disorder caused by damage to the parts of the brain related to speaking.
  • Dysarthriais a motor speech disorder in which the muscles of the mouth, face, or respiratory system may become weak or have difficulty moving.

Some people with speech disorders are aware of what they would like to say but unable to articulate their thoughts. This may lead to self-esteem issues and the development of depression.

Speech disorders can affect adults and children and early treatment can help correct these conditions.

Stammering, also sometimes referred to as “stuttering”, is a relatively common speech problem which develops in childhood and can persist into adulthood.

Studies suggest around 1 in 12 young children go through a phase of stammering with around 2 in 3 children growing out of it by adulthood.

It’s estimated that stammering affects around 1 in 100 adults, with men being around 3 to 4 times more likely to stammer than women.

What is stammering or stuttering?

Stammering is when:

  • you repeat sounds or syllables – for example, saying “mu-mu-mu-mummy”
  • you make sounds longer – for example, “mmmmmmummy”
  • a word gets stuck or does not come out at all

Stammering varies in severity from person to person, and from situation to situation. Someone might have periods of stammering followed by times when they speak relatively fluently.

There are 2 main types of stammering:

  • developmental stammering – the most common type of stammering that happens in early childhood when speech and language skills are developing quickly
  • acquired or late-onset stammering – is relatively rare and happens in older children and adults as a result of a head injury, strokeor progressive neurological condition. It can also be caused by certain drugs, medicines, or psychological or emotional trauma


What causes stammering?

It is not possible to say for sure why a child starts stammering, but developmental and inherited factors may play a part, along with small differences in how efficiently the speech areas of the brain are working.

Speech development

Speech development is a complex process that involves communication between different areas of the brain, and between the brain and the muscles responsible for breathing and speaking.  When every part of this system works well, the right words are spoken in the right order, with correct rhythm, pauses and emphasis.

A child learning to construct simple sentences needs practice to develop the different speech areas in the brain and create the “wiring” (neural pathways) needed for the different parts to work well together.

Talking problems can happen if some parts of this developing system are not coordinated. This can cause repetitions and stoppages, particularly when the child has lots to say, is excited, or feels under pressure. As the brain continues to develop, some of these problems resolve or the brain can compensate, which is why many children “grow out” of stammering.

Stammering is more common in boys than girls. It is unclear why this is although genes are also thought to have a role. Around 2 in 3 people who stammer have a family history of stammering, which suggests the genes a child inherits from their parents might make them more likely to develop a stammer.

When to get help

You should get advice if you have any concerns about your child’s speech or language development.  Treatment for stammering is often successful in pre-school age children, so it’s important to be referred to a specialist as soon as possible.

Talk to a GP or health visitor about your concerns. If necessary, they may refer your child to a speech and language therapist (SLT) for an assessment.

Stamma (The British Stammering Association) has more information and support for people who stammer and parents of stammering children. You can call the helpline on 0808 802 0002 from Monday to Friday 10am to midday and 6pm to 8pm to find out about the services available in your area.

If you’re an adult who stammers and it’s having a significant impact on your social and work life, you may want to ask a GP to refer you to an SLT.

Find out more about stammering visit: NHS – Stammering.

Singing for Health and Wellbeing

We can also use our voice to improve our wellbeing!  Research has shown that singing is good for us and is known to improve health and wellbeing, bringing about increased engagement and confidence. This can be achieved through therapy or performance, as well as alone or in a group activity.

Research has shown that singing may also help us ward off illness – a benefit that is not to be underestimated in this current pandemic situation. 

It has also been found that singing helps to reduce stress, which is linked to so many other health conditions.  Singing also boosts the immune system which may help reduce frequency of illness.

Listening to positive music for more than 5 minutes a day can improve mood state and engaging in music by singing or playing instruments is more effective than listening alone.

Singing is good for mental well-being and that through singing in a group or with others, we can nurture our spiritual health and sense of belonging.  

So next time you feel a bit of a lift, try putting on some music and singing along, or think about joining a local choir or vocal group, you really don’t need to be the next Pavarotti and you will be helping to boost your health and wellbeing while doing something fun and enjoyable!

You can read more about the benefits of singing in the following article:

The benefits of singing for health and wellbeing – The British Academy of Sound Therapy


 Thanks for reading and, as ever, keep in touch with us at wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk