A New Mental Health Service for People in Music Could Be a Lifeline

Charity Help Musicians UK will launch a 24/7 helpline in December, with three big pledges on how to practically tackle mental illness in music.

Oct 16 2017, 11:19am

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The charity Help Musicians UK today announces – alongside publishing a final report – that it'll be launching Music Minds Matter, a 24/7, dedicated, nationwide mental health service for anyone working in the music industry, in December. The launch comes as one of three pledges from the charity, following the pilot of Can Music Make You Sick?', the world's largest known academic study into the music business and its impact on mental health. To take action, along with Music Minds Matter, Help Musicians UK have also pledged to create a taskforce to drive the establishment of a code of best practice within the industry at large, and to continue to advocate for industry change where these issues are concerned. In translation: they're getting even more serious about proactive ways to deal with how little the music industry structurally supports people struggling with their mental health – and they'll need all the support they can get to do so.

Music Minds Matter was initially touted back in July, just after the suicide of Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington. Help Musicians UK pledged £100,000 to the service, and began a crowdfunding campaign. The service, which is to offer "clinical and therapeutic help, grant funding and bespoke legal, welfare, debt and benefits advice," will be the first of its kind in the UK. Its founding is based on interviews with a cross-section of 26 music professionals, following the massive 2,000+ respondents who participated in last year's Can Music Make You Sick? study. In a statement, Christine Brown of Help Musicians UK said:

"HMUK is uniquely placed to commission and share the results of this important, game-changing study. The charity granted nearly two million pounds last year to those that need it most in the industry, so it is a natural step to examine the key issues and make a call to action to help implement wider, lasting change in the industry. The British music industry is in rude health and has a world class reputation – but to continue the long-term wellbeing of the industry and its workers, we aim to create a constructive forum for discussion, partnership and collaboration."

As last year's study found, it'll be a much needed lifeline for many in the music industry. The study found that those in the music industry "may be up to three times more likely to experience depression compared to the general public", at a rate of about 67 percent of people surveyed. It also revealed that causes of mental illness for those in the music industry could include money worries, poor-working conditions (largely due to self-employment and isolation), relationship challenges, and sexual abuse, bullying, or discrimination from within the industry. This new and final report, released today, shows how the precarious nature of working in music then creates more harmful effects (for artists in particular), feelings of self-doubt and a sense of worthlessness that can spiral into a cycle of eroded mental wellbeing.

It's certainly one thing to have the conversation about mental illness in the music industry, but it's quite another, much harder thing to actually go about trying to make change. Here's hoping that Music Minds Matter, and all of Help Musicians UK's other promises following today's ginal Can Music Make You Sick? study can do just that.

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