Help Musicians UK Release “Can Music Make You Sick?” Study And Announced Key Pledges For Industry

The country’s leading independent music charity, Help Musicians UK (HMUK), released the final report and findings of Can Music Make You Sick? and announced three key pledges for the music industry.

HMUK pledged to establish a Music Industry Mental Health Taskforce, to lead the drive for change across the industry as well as launching a landmark 24/7 mental health service ‘Music Minds Matter’ for anyone working in the music industry by December 2017 This final pledge combines clinical and therapeutic help, grant funding and bespoke legal, welfare, debt and benefits advice.

HMUK, who have been serving the music industry for 96 years, originally commissioned Can Music Make You Sick? in 2016. This is the world’s largest known academic study into music and mental health and was a survey of over 2,200 musicians —revealing that the music community may be up to three times more likely to experience depression compared to the general public.

The research provided crucial insight into the scale of the problem of musician’s mental health challenges, how this can be further impacted by a career in music, to find out how the charity can help and support those that need it most in the music community.

This new and final study, undertaken by researchers Sally Gross and Dr. George Musgrave of the University of Westminster and published by MusicTank, asked the music community how their working conditions have impacted on their mental health and general wellbeing and comprises semi-structured interviews of 26 respondents from a broad cross section of the industry. The participants stem from the initial 2016 survey.

As well as making the three headline pledges, today HMUK has revealed the key insights and recommendations from the report:

Research key insights:
* Money worries – 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 get little time to take a break. Musicians can also find it hard to access affordable professional help for mental health issues.
* Poor working conditions – Music makers can be reflective and highly self-critical, and exist in an environment of constant critical feedback. As many musicians are self-employed, their work can result in feelings of isolation when it comes to dealing with mental health problems.
* Relationship challenges – Family, friends and partners play an important role in supporting musicians, but these relationships can come under huge pressure and strain.
* Sexual abuse/bullying/discrimination – Musicians’ working environment can be anti-social and unsympathetic, with some experiencing sexual abuse, harassment, bullying and coercion.

Summary of recommendations:

* Education – Discussion of mental health awareness should be embedded in curriculum in music education courses and wider discussion should be stimulated in the industry with working musicians.
* A code of best practice – Allied to a commitment of kindness and tolerance, to act as voluntary demonstration of an organisation’s awareness of mental health issues in the music industry and an understanding of the challenges faced by creative workers.
* A mental health support service for music community – professional mental health services that are affordable and accessible.

HMUK’s Three Key Pledges:

* Building a music industry Mental Health Taskforce – with key partners and stakeholders, to be a forum for discussion with the industry to establish a code of best practice and duty of care within the industry
* Deliver a nationwide support service – This will take the form of Music Minds Matter, the unique new 24/7 mental health service to launch December 2017, to be shaped and defined in partnership with the industry
* Advocate for change across the industry – Ignite support in the UK and globally for Music Minds Matter with key industry partnerships and collaborations