A musician’s career is a very exciting one. Being able to perform and show an audience what you love is a luxury many people in other professional fields would be envious of. However, with the highs also come the lows: what if the audience don’t like you? What if the critics don’t like your interpretation? Musicians can both struggle financially and work unsociable hours. Mental health problems can therefore be a serious issue within the industry, one in which music charities are beginning to address.
Help Musicians UK is an organisation with an acute awareness of the problems musicians can face. In 2016 they launched the campaign, Mental Health Campaign – Music and Depression, aiming to break down stigma and start conversations within the music industry about depression and anxiety. The charity, Music and Depression, commissioned the first academic study, ‘Can Music Make You Sick?’, on the relationship between musicians and mental health.
The study, performed by the University of Winchester, found that 71.1% of all respondents believed they had suffered from panic attacks and/or high levels of anxiety at some stage of their career, while 68% reported they had suffered from depression. The findings suggested that musicians might be up to three times more likely to suffer from mental health problems than the general public. This was due to a number of reasons, varying from unregulated working conditions and irregular hours to a belief that musical identity shaped self-worth.
The findings found that there is an urgent need for an accessible service for people who work in the music industry. Since the launch of the campaign in 2016, Help Musicians UK have announced a new fundraising campaign for the world’s first dedicated 24/7 mental health service for people working in the industry. The service will provide both listening and advice services, as well as clinical medical, therapeutic and welfare facilities for those who need it.