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Help Musicians UK publishes mental health report

By | Published on Monday 16 October 2017

Help Musicians UK

Help Musicians UK today published another report from its study into mental health challenges within the music community, the result of research originally launched at the CMU Insights conference at The Great Escape in 2016.

The charity put out initial stats based on a survey of the music industry just under a year ago. The new report, produced by the University Of Westminster, also includes insights from 26 more in depth interviews with respondents from across the music community.

The new report identifies various characteristics specific to a career in music which can have a damaging affect on the mental health of people working in the sector, and/or make it harder for people to access support and healthcare when they need it.

This includes the unusually high number of self-employed people working in music, many of whom must often undertake multiple concurrent projects in order to bring in sufficient money overall to live off. This makes it very hard to achieve a good work-life balance; can result in a precarious and unpredictable financial situation; can put pressure on relationships with friends, families and partners; and might result in a feeling of isolation, especially when it comes to dealing with mental health problems.

In terms of recommendations, the report says that mental health awareness should be included in the music education curriculum and be a topic more regularly discussed among working musicians. It also recommends a code of best practice for music companies and organisations and more mental health support services specifically aimed at music people.

Work is already underway in some of those areas, of course, especially in the UK where there has been a much more frank conversation about mental health in the music community in recent years. The Music Managers Forum has already begun work in the education domain, while the Music Support charity and Help Musicians itself are providing specialist support services. Though there is still plenty more to be done.

On the back of the report, Help Musicians UK makes three pledges. First to build a music industry mental health taskforce with partners across the industry “to establish a code of best practice and duty of care within the industry”. It will also advocate change in this area in the UK and beyond, plus put live its previously reported new 24/7 mental health service – to be called Music Minds Matter – which will launch in December of this year.

Commenting on the new report, which you can download here, Westminster University researchers Sally Gross and Dr George Musgrave said this morning: “This research is a crucial step forward in our understanding of the complex relationship between the working conditions of musicians and mental health”.

They went on: “The honesty and poignancy of our interviewees has made possible this important work, and informed the service provision being implemented by Help Musicians UK, and for that we are truly thankful. We hope that this research can spark a wider debate both in the music industry about the welfare of those at its heart, and more generally about the challenging nature of precarious work”.

Help Musicians UK’s Christine Brown added: “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. Through the new Music Minds Matter service, we are closer to providing the crucial support, advice and education the music community desperately needs. Together we can continue to chip away at the stigma, so that in the long term those working in the community never have to suffer in silence”.