Soon-to-be Psychiatrist ZENG Combats Mental Health Stigma Through Music

The soon-to-be psychiatrist, now turned jazz music sensation, ZENG is trying to use music to combat misconceptions that have grown around mental health issues. As society steps into a post-pandemic world, marginalized and isolated communities are being more vocal about social issues that have been ignored by society for years. 

ZENG is now rapidly gaining traction in his ongoing efforts to combat stigma, while at the same time balancing a dual-board Neurology-Psychiatry residency at NYU and promoting the release of his debut album “Loading…”, which was released in December 2020. 

The young artist and recent University of Pennsylvania medical school graduate is only getting started. His work in the field of psychiatry and neurology has opened a whole new world of understanding non-invasive solutions towards finding new treatments for mental health illnesses. With a busy schedule and even busier academic career – we’ve gotten to know how ZENG is using his love for music to break mental health stigma. 

An Overview: How ZENG Discovered his Love for Jazz Music 

Born in New Rochelle, NY, and raised in Rhode Island by his Asian-American parents, the then soon-to-be musical prodigy started playing jazz piano from a young age. After discovering Mulgrew Miller during his adolescence, he became instantly hooked to jazz. A little bit down the road, ZENG found solace in the work of #BAM (Black American Music), a term coined by Nicholas Payton. From hip-hop, neo-soul, and jazz to gospel, ZENG soon realized that there was much more to music than what he had previously known and been exposed to. 

Determined to perfect his skills as a jazz trumpeter, he soon headed off to Princeton University, where he completed a degree in Philosophy while spending much of his time playing music and honing his craft as a young jazz musician. After a particularly harrowing concert, ZENG eventually transitioned back to his roots as a pianist. Soon realizing that although his love for music would never fade away, he had other aspirations and dedicated himself to his academic career, graduating from the University of Pennsylvania medical school in 2021. Now undergoing a dual residency in psychiatry and neurology at NYU – ZENG is finding new ways to fuse his love for music and the human mind. 

ZENG’s Unique Philosophy on Mental Health Awareness and Music 

In his time researching and working in the field of neurology and psychiatry, ZENG has re-examined his approach to using music in an ongoing effort to find alternate treatments for mental health patients. Using music as medicine is a very non-invasive approach and can help alleviate a patient’s symptoms with minimal side effects. It’s a very safe, cost-effective, and easily accessible form of treatment that has great therapeutic potential, and ZENG believes that more and more research will elucidate the neurobiological underpinnings of music’s ability to heal.  

There has been a growing misconception around what the true nature of mental illness is. A lack of knowledge and understanding is a long-standing issue that has plagued many communities and as impacted many of those who are suffering from mental health problems within those communities. ZENG believes that being a mental health professional who is strongly integrated in the Asian-American community will allow him to dispel myths and connect to his Asian patients on a deeper level, based on a shared cultural understanding.  

ZENG’s work in the medical field shows how much we still have to learn. More so, it shows that not only are we unaware of critical issues that’ve been overlooked for decades, but cultural norms and traditions can negatively impact one’s understanding of mental health awareness. ZENG is looking to become a link in the chain for the Asian-American community, and above all – create new possibilities for those struggling with mental health conditions. 

Conclusion: Where ZENG’s Achievements Will Take his Movement

Already having completed a master’s at the Manhattan School of Music in Jazz Piano Performance and being part of research projects at MIT, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and other acclaimed academic institutions – ZENG is acquiring massive support for what he’s setting out to achieve. After signing with the jazz-fusion record label Ropeadope Records and the release of his debut album “Loading…” in 2020 ZENG is not only disrupting the status quo in the jazz scene, but he is using music to build a platform from where he can help destigmatize critical issues surrounding mental health problems for marginalized individuals throughout the world.