Mental health of musicians in the news

The suicides of Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) last week and of Chris Cornell (Soundgarden) last May made me feel very sad. Some people used it to start a discussion about the mental health of musicians and of people working in the music business.

Lisa Gritter published a Dutch article in Vice this week with a very personal story about her own burn-out and about the reactions of colleagues and others in the music business. It seems that many of us have had similar experiences, but we don’t talk about it until you start asking.

Jon Chapple is in an article in IQ Magazine advocating for an international fund for help to musicians with mental problems. In the UK you already have Music Support working on a 24/7 helpline for musicians and for people working in the music industry, to get support with problems related to alcoholism, addiction, mental and emotional health issues. Begin of July , Robbie Williams announced to become their patron.

Colleague psychologist Daisy Gubbels published an article on her blog today, asking why there are so many musicians committing suicide. Research shows, that it is more than on average indeed. Mental disorders like depression and anxiety (among musicians much higher than on average) play an important role, next to drug abuse. This may be caused by the conditions musicians work in, or by a higher sensitivity among musicians, or by a combination of both.

Mental issues can be helped and cured. It can make a huge difference, if you have a psychologist or mental coach to talk to, to reflect your current situation. Awareness is the start, the guts to ask for help the next step. How can we make it more easy for artists and for people working in the music business to realize the state of mental health they are in, and to ask for help when they need to?

Music Support is the initiator of Safe Tents at festivals. It helps not only to create awareness for mental needs of musicians, it also offers direct help by creating a quiet, drug-free environment for people working at festivals.

In the main news you don’t see or hear much of all these initiatives and discussions. Could it be that many people in the media are afraid, that audience and artists still believe that better mental health of artists means less creativity? The myth of the artist that has to suffer in order to be creatives is a very strong one. While there are plenty of examples that show how the creativity of artists improve with better mental health.

25 years ago, Julia Cameron wrote a whole book/workshop about improving mental health to become more creative: The Artist’s Way. Many writes and authors still use her methods. Isn’t it time for musicians too, to embrace mental health in order to enjoy life and to become more creative?

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