Mental Health and the Australian Music Industry: A Round-Up

Image Credit: healthline.com
Jasmine Crittenden
| July 18, 2017

As part of our Roundtable Contemporary Music Conference, we will host a discussion titled Mental Health in the Music Industry Workplace. Moderated by Leanne de Souza, Executive Director, Association of Artist Managers (AAM), the panel will summarise recent developments, present personal perspectives, invite discussion and discuss proposals for a national music and mental health industry plan. Speakers include Joanna Cave, Chief Executive, Support Act; Rick Chazan, Ground Control Management and Co-Chair, Association of Artist Managers (AAM); Jeffrey Crabtree, musician, composer and author; and Dr Chris Stevens, psychologist.

In this article, we provide some context and a round-up of some important initiatives relating to mental health and music, both formal and informal, at local, state, national and international levels.

Context

The national conversation was aired in 2016 at BIGSOUND’s Mental Health and Music Panel. Featuring Tom Larkin, Shihad; Catherine Haridy, Catherine Haridy Management; musician Jen Cloher and psychologists Julie Crabtree and Chris Stevens, the discussion called for industry action, including the involvement of peak bodies. “Being an artist is a spiritual journey because you are faced with how shit you are,” said Cloher, as reported by The Music.

Initiatives

February 2017 saw the launch of the Arts Wellbeing Collective, an organisation made up of 90 Victorian arts bodies and dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of Australian arts professionals. Its twelve-month pilot program includes workshops, training, resources and a website.

Throughout May and June, APRA AMCOS, in collaboration with Support Act, ran Music and the Mind, a series of free panel discussions held in cities around Australia that covered strategies for maintaining a healthy creative mind and provided advice for those seeking help.

In the UK, on 18 May, the Music Managers Forum, in collaboration with Music Support, a music charity, and with support from Help Musicians UK, published the first Music Managers Guide To Mental Health. It’s a free, downloadable publication, which covers three topics: anxiety and depression, alcoholism and drug addiction, and work balance and boundaries.

In October 2015, Music Industry Inside Out published “Mental Health in the Music Industry: A Frank Discussion”, which features interviews with Denise Foley, producer, Big Sound, as well as four prominent music industry figures, whose identities were kept anonymous.

Research

In October 2016, Entertainment Assist, in conjunction with College of Arts, Victoria University, published research into Australian entertainment workers and mental health. Interviews with 2,904 respondents across the country found that, when compared with the general population, entertainment workers, which include performers, industry support workers and technicians, experience:

  • double the rate of suicide attempts
  • ten times the rate of moderate to severe anxiety symptoms
  • five times the rate of depression symptoms
  • 2-3 times the rate of suicide ideation

In November 2016, Help Musicians UK, a charity dedicated to musicians of all genres, published a study titled Can Music Make You Sick? Interviews with 2,211 music industry professionals revealed they’re three times more likely to suffer anxiety or depression than the general public. 71.1% of respondents reported having experienced high levels of anxiety and/or panic attacks, while 68.5% said they had experienced depression.

Music Australia’s Roundtable session will seek delegate input to determine priority mental health issues for industry, and will feed these into the development of a national action plan. All are welcome to attend and you can register here.

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