Let’s Talk About: The Music Industry and Mental Health

#WorldMentalHealthDay 2017

Mental Health

We’re not sure if you’re aware of this, but 2016 was a pretty significant year in the music industry. Yes, Drake stunned us with his interesting dance moves in his ‘Hotline Bling’ music video, One Direction officially announced their hiatus and Beyoncé blew us all away with her 6th studio album ‘Lemonade’.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, 2016 was also considered a breakthrough year for mental health in the music industry, with more and more music artists speaking openly about their personal struggles. Adele spoke out about her struggles with postnatal depression, Zayn Malik shared his experiences of anxiety and having an eating disorder, Selena Gomez disclosed her social media silence was a part of her dealing with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

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This positive momentum continued into 2017, which has seen artists such as Stormzy and Lady Gaga actively reach out to the public regarding mental health issues. These musicians chose to speak up about their own personal struggles to quash the stigma attached the mental health illnesses.



In 2016, the charity Help Musicians UK published a study that suggested that musicians are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety than the general public. It reported that:

‘71% of those surveyed had suffered from panic attacks or high levels of anxiety and 65% had suffered from depression, compared to around 1 in 5 of the general population’.

There is a persuasive argument that creativity and mental-health illnesses somehow go hand-in-hand. From Beethoven to Elvis Presley, almost all great musicians have been cast as a ‘tortured genius’. But really when you think about it, there are so many important contributing factors that impact a musician’s mental health:



The working environment can be argued as being a HUGE contributing factor to an average persons’ mental state. When considering the working environment of the average successful musician – high pressure, unsociable hours, spending time on the road away from your family and friends and frequent exhaustion – you can understand why a music artists’ mental health is affected.

And of course, we cannot discount a musician’s increased access to drugs and alcohol…



For most creative individuals, particularly musicians, their creative outlet is a form of self-expression and in some instances can be considered a type of therapy. Therefore, when their creative outlet becomes their 9 to 5, it can sometimes taint their relationship with their work, something which used to be passion.



On top of all this, music artists now are subject to the added pressure and scrutiny from social media. Social media can be considered a double-edged sword to prominent music artists. On one hand, it provides a platform for artists to put themselves out there and spread recognition to their music, yet on the other hand, this also opens themselves up to a mountain of criticism.



Earlier this year, Help Musicians UK announced their campaign ‘Music Minds Matter’ which aims to support the world’s first dedicated 24/7 mental health service for people working in music. These are small steps towards providing support for those in the industry.

Although musicians are speaking out about their personal struggles, there needs to be more proactive conversation regarding mental health in the music industry, to encourage music artists to seek help when required, as well as continuing to shatter the stigma attached to mental health.

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