Mental health conditions don’t discriminate – they can affect anybody from any walk of life. Though musicians may appear untouchable at times, they too are liable to suffer the effects of poor mental health. And, in fact, there are aspects to the life and job role of a musician that can leave them more vulnerable to certain conditions, and it’s important that both artists and anyone associated with the music industry are aware of these.
In this post, we’ll shine a light on some of the reasons why musicians are particularly at risk of suffering from mental health problems, and explain why it’s so important for people in the industry to talk about this topic.
Poor working conditions
Particularly for musicians who are just starting out in the industry, working conditions can have a serious impact on their mental wellbeing. Artists in the infancy of their career are more likely to be faced with uncertainty around income and job security, which in itself can generate feelings of depression or anxiety.
What’s more, musicians in general are more likely to be working unsociable hours, affecting their sleeping patterns and potentially their health. This is the case at both ends of the spectrum. For people looking to break through in the industry, they’re more likely to accept jobs or performances at anti-social times to do all they can to get their music heard. Meanwhile established artists who are perhaps touring a country or internationally will be faced with the tolls of constant travel demands and often daily performances.
Research has found that musicians are three times more likely to experience feelings of depression or anxiety compared to the general public. On top of concerns about financial instability and being unable to make future plans, regular performances can also take their toll on artists.
There is a perpetual pressure from fans to not only perform to the best of their abilities at live concerts, but also to produce a constant stream of new music. The fans aren’t the only ones applying the pressure, either. Labels and managers are also pushing their artists to fulfil the insatiable appetite for new, exciting sounds, and this can only exacerbate any existing feelings of anxiety or depression.
What can be done to help?
Fortunately, conversations around mental health are taking place more frequently in today’s society, which has taken great strides in removing the stigma that’s long been attached to such topics. But it’s clear that more needs to be done to protect the artists we value so highly. Here are three ways musicians can be supported:
- Avoiding stigma. Fans, organisations, managers and anyone involved in the industry all have the shared responsibility of not stigmatising mental health issues. Having open conversations around the topic, and encouraging others to do the same, will hopefully make it easier for artists to seek the help they need.
- Charities. There are lots of charities set up across the globe that are solely dedicated to supporting the mental health of musicians. If you’re a musician yourself, or know someone who you think may benefit, then get in touch online with one of the many charities that can help in taking the first steps towards improving the wellbeing of artists.
- NHS. It’s also possible to get support from medical professionals. Your GP will be able to recommend potential next steps to help you get the advice you need. Whether that’s through medication or talking therapies, there are lots of options that become available by speaking to a healthcare professional.
As consumers of these artists’ services, we all have a role to play in supporting their wellbeing. According to UK Music, around one in four professionals in the industry suffer from mental health conditions like depression or anxiety every year. And with external factors like Brexit and the pandemic continuing to affect musicians in unforeseen ways, it’s crucially important that they have access to the help they need.
There are so many ways individuals can offer more support to these people who bring us so much joy. Firstly, your money will help to support their livelihoods – spending money on merchandise, music, tickets, and tips will all help. Besides that, interact with their social media accounts, share their music with friends and family or put your name down for email updates regarding their work. Every little contribution you make will help to support your favourite artists in one way or another, whilst also helping to safeguard the future of this coveted industry.