From #MyMusicMindMatters to PRS's new mental health 'first-aiders', a raft of music companies are joining the conversation for WMH Day 2018
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Launching today are Afem's mental health guide and new US initiative Tour Support, while Michael Rapino has funded MITC's Touring and Mental Health Manual
By Jon Chapple on 10 Oct 2019
Several initiatives aiming to improve the mental health of the international music industry have been announced in the run-up to World Mental Health Day (WMHD) 2019, which takes place worldwide today (10 October).
The Music Industry Therapist Collective (MITC), launched earlier this year by a collective of industry psychotherapists, has revealed that its 300-page Touring and Mental Health Manual is now fully funded – having smashed through its £21,774 goal courtesy of a donation from Live Nation’s president and CEO, Michael Rapino.
“Artists and crews spend their lives on the road, bringing shows to life for fans around the world. But that dedication can come with sacrifice,” says Rapino. “It’s critical that we provide support to ensure that everyone can maintain sound mind and body while on the road. Live Nation is proud to join the Music Industry Therapist Collective in providing new resources for mental health and wellness for the behind-the-scenes heroes who make it all happen.”
“As clinicians working with artists we witness a wide range of psychological difficulties that can occur on or as a result of touring, including loneliness, performance anxiety, band conflict, addiction and dependency, post-tour depression, relationship difficulties and burn-out,” adds Embleton. “This manual will provide practical, clinically sound advice on how to identify, approach and cope with these, and many other, difficulties, helping artists and crew to have healthier, more sustainable careers in the live music industry.”
“It’s critical that we provide support to ensure that everyone can maintain sound mind and body while on the road”
Also launching a guide, targeted at those working in its sector of the music industry, is the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), which published its new Electronic Music Industry Guide to Mental Health today.
The publication, which updates the Music Managers Forum’s Guide to Mental Health, is produced by Afem alongside Help Musicians UK and Music Support. The guide covers key mental health issues that affect those working in the electronic music industry, including anxiety, depression, alcohol, substance abuse/dependency, work/life imbalance and lack of sleep.
Sleep coach and mental health ambassador Tom Middleton, co-chair of Afem’s health group, says: “This guide represents a clear shift towards responsibility, accountability and duty of care within the industry, with expertly curated top-line actionable prevention and self-care advice and signposting to professional mental health support.”
The guide also contains a directory which lists key contacts for those needing help, which Afem will expand to cover all 25 countries in which it has members.
MITC’s Embleton, also the new Afem health working group co-chair, adds: “Working in the electronic music industry can be deeply rewarding but it is also competitive, fast-paced, unpredictable and hedonistic. Job insecurity, shame and demanding work schedules can act as barriers to individuals realising that they need help. I hope that this guide can support those working in the industry by helping them to identify signs and symptoms of when someone is struggling, so that they can better support themselves and those around them.”
“Working in the industry can be deeply rewarding, but it is also competitive, fast-paced, unpredictable and hedonistic”
Music Support’s World Mental Health Day 2019 also sees it partnering with the Event Safety Shop (Tess), the UK-based event safety specialist, to support its work, which includes an emergency helpline, training workshops and ‘Safe Hubs’ at music festivals, where backstage staff can speak to mental health first-aiders.
“With three decades working in live events, I have too many personal experiences witnessing people suffering with mental health issues without adequate support,” says Tess director Simon James. “We work in a pressured environment and we’re very proud to do what we can assisting Music Support in bringing empathetic, professional help into the music industry.”
Music Support MD Eric Mtungwazi adds: “Music Support is delighted that Tess has chosen to support the charity in helping industry peers affected by mental ill health and/or addiction issues.
“Tess is a leader in the field of health and safety needs, and we see this partnership as a significant industry step forward towards putting mental and physical health agenda on more even footing for the wellbeing of the community we serve.”
“We work in a pressured environment and we’re very proud to do what we can assisting Music Support”
In the US, LightHopeLife, a suicide prevention and awareness charity, has launched Tour Support, a non-profit service offering mental health support for the touring industry.
Backed by the likes of Live Nation, WME and artists including John Legend, Steve Aoki, José González and My Morning Jacket, aims to provide touring professionals (artists and crew) with support when they’re on the road.
Tour Support’s first initiative is a partnership with online therapy provider BetterHelp, which will allow tours to purchase a plan that makes professional counselling available anytime, anywhere, via text, phone or video chat, to everyone in their organisation.
BetterHelp has additionally gifted $250,000 worth of services to new and independent artists.
“Online counselling is a great solution to people on-the-go and those with hectic schedules, so it’s a natural fit for musicians and the people who work with them,” says BetterHelp founder and president Alon Matas.
“Tour Support’s initiative can be life-changing for so many people, and it aligns perfectly with our mission to make professional counselling accessible anytime, anywhere. We’re proud and excited to partner with an organisation that proactively addresses the mental health needs of their industry.”
“Tour Support’s initiative can be life-changing for so many people”
Tour Support also counts Vicky Cornell, widow of Chris Cornell, as a supporter, with her Chris and Vicky Cornell Foundation coming on board.
“Tour Support’s trainings and resources will specifically help support the music community that Chris will always be a part of,” she explains. “I’m honoured to be a part of their efforts to raise awareness, educate and support our extended families on the road.”
WMHD, created by the World Federation for Mental Health, has been observed annually since 1992. World Mental Health Day 2019’s theme is the prevention of suicide, which kills 800,000 people every year, and is the leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds.
Find out how the music community marked last year’s World Mental Health Day here.
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