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NZ Music Fdn Wellbeing Service marks successful year 1

The service, which offers counselling online, on the phone and in person, has offered "vital support" to the NZ industry since September 2016

By Jon Chapple on 20 Oct 2017

Peter Dickens, New Zealand Music Foundation Wellbeing Service

image © NZ Music Foundation

The New Zealand Music Foundation Wellbeing Service, a telephone, online and in-person counselling service for people working in live and recorded music, is celebrating a successful first year in operation, during which time it has received nearly 90 calls from more than 40 New Zealanders on its freephone 0508 MUSICHELP line.

The service was established in late September 2016 in response to the results of the foundation’s NZ Music Community Wellbeing Survey, which found that Kiwis in the music industry were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide than the general population, more than three times as likely to indicate positively for problem alcohol use and that 84% had experienced stress in the preceding 12 months that affected their ability to function day to day.

It offers a free, 24/7 helpline in both New Zealand and Australia and professional counselling from registered practitioners, all of whom have a minimum of five years’ practice experience and a demonstrated record of counselling provision to those working in the creative industries.

The charity classifies the cases it addresses as minor, medium or major. Over the past year:

  • Many of the minor cases involved caring conversations with a qualified triage counsellor lasting in excess of 60 minutes, addressing issues of deep concern to the caller
  • In the medium category, 21 people were referred on for more than 60 in-depth personal counselling sessions from the NZ Music Foundation Wellbeing Service roster of counsellors
  • 12% of enquiries came from people experiencing major distress, where there was a need to immediately refer the case on to more acute clinical care such as community mental health, a GP or similar primary care provider
  • The most prevalent contributing factors have included extreme low mood, anxiety, industry stress and career issues, followed by health, financial, family and addiction issues
  • 28% of those contacting the service had already received a clinical diagnosis of a mental health/ mood disorder

NZ Music Foundation general manager Peter Dickens (pictured) says: “We’re very proud to have been able to provide vital support and counselling in this way over the last year. […]

“Our research told us that setting up an accessible, affordable, tailored service was an essential step if we were to tackle the issue of mental health and wellbeing in Kiwi music people. We intend to continue to reach out to all people making live and recorded music possible in NZ who need this service.”

“The information the NZ Music Foundation has uncovered is important because it means we can start talking to and educating younger generations so they can be safeguarded for the future – something the charity is very proactive in doing,” adds Ben Howe, managing director of Flying Nun Records.

“In addition to the conversation the survey has initiated and education around that, the NZ Music Foundation Wellbeing Service has done a fantastic job in supporting, assisting and advising where people in music have been in crisis or in difficult situations. It is an essential job and they have been very helpful to us.”

The NZ Music Foundation’s research tallies with similar studies in AustraliaBritainNorway and more that show musicians and other industry professionals are more likely to suffer with depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems than the general population. British charity Help Musicians UK, meanwhile, earlier this week released the second phase of its Can Music Make You Sick? report into music-industry mental health in the UK.


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