In 2016 an independent music charity named Help Musicians UK began a study titled Music and Depression which involved a survey with over 2,200 participants, all of which were musicians. It’s a well known fact that depression effects many in the music industry, but the conclusion of the study was that if you are a musician you are three times more likely to be depressed.
The survey which consisted of 2,211 participants, 55.2%of which were male, and 43.9% of which were female. The largest group of respondents described themselves as musicians (39%) and worked across a wide variety of genres. Other profession included were DJs, live crews and music management.
The study also went on the try and dig into the finer details by interviewing 26 musicians individually. The 26 musicians were asked about their experiences working in the industry and how they understood these impacted on their mental health and well-being.
“Concerns about money were a constant theme in the conversations with musicians,” the report said. “Some emerging artists are working one or more jobs in order to not only survive, but also to subsidise their music making. As a result, some respondents said they couldn’t plan their lives or futures as they’d like, and spoke about a creeping sense of self-doubt when they saw peers achieving life goals such as buying a house, getting married or going on holiday.”
The study went onto to learn that a huge number of the participants had previously suffered panic attacks, anxiety and depression with . 71.1% of all participants believing they had suffered from panic attacks and/or high levels of anxiety . 68.5% reported they had suffered from depression, meaning musicians studied may be three times more likely to suffer from depression to the general public.
More findings included:
- Music makers’ relationship to their work is integral to their sense of self. It’s how they define themselves.
- People in the music industry needed to believe in themselves and their work, yet the unpredictable nature of the business can knock that belief.
- Music makers can be reflective and highly self-critical, and exist in an environment of constant critical feedback.
- A career in music is often precarious and unpredictable.
- Many musicians have several different jobs as part of a portfolio career, and as a result can feel as though they work 24/7 and can’t take a break.
- It can be hard for musicians to admit to insecurities because of competition and wanting to appear on top of things.
- Family, friends and partners play an important role in supporting musicians, but this can also lead to feelings of guilt.
- Musicians’ working environment can be anti-social and unsympathetic, with some people experiencing sexual abuse, harassment, bullying and coercion.
The second indication of these early, preliminary findings suggest that while artists find solace in the production of music, working in the music industry might indeed be making musicians sick, or at least contributing towards their levels of mental ill-health.
Respondents attributed this to a variety of reasons including:
- Poor working conditions including: the difficulty of sustaining a living, anti-social working hours, exhaustion and the inability to plan their time/future.
- A lack of recognition for one’s work and the welding of music and identity into one’s own idea of selfhood
- The physical impacts of a musical career (such as musculoskeletal disorders)
- Issues related to the problems of being a woman in the industry – from balancing work and family commitments, to sexist attitudes and even sexual harassment
The final finding was that the majority of respondents felt underserved by available help and feel that there are gaps in existing provision.
- Sourcing available help is both time consuming and difficult. That is, the help which is currently available, be it NHS, private or charitable, is not always easy to learn about and/or access;
- There is a sense that when help is provided, there is an over-reliance on unwanted, often unhelpful, and expensive pharmaceutical solutions i.e. anti-depressants;
- Non-pharmacological help, when it is provided outside of the NHS system, can be very expensive.
All info gathered from : MAD – Music and Depression
If you need to talk, contact:
Samaritans: 116 123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Aware: 1800 804848 (depression, anxiety)
Pieta House: 1800 247247 or email email@example.com – (suicide, self-harm)
Teen-Line Ireland: 1800 833634 (for ages 13 to 19)
Childline: 1800 666666 (for under 18s)