Precarity and mental health

In a recent blog post I asked who is responsible for the mental health of musicians, and what the music business can do to support musicians in taking care of their mental health. The article was shared online at various platforms and I got many reactions. Thank you!

You all agreed, that people are responsible for their own mental health, musicians too. Some of you shared personal experiences with depression or brain damage and being grateful for help from charities that are specialized in helping musicians. Others are lucky enough to be able to rely on their health insurance, for it includes care of mental health as well. The health system in your country defines for a big deal how you think about mental health and about what help you need.

In the mean time, the UK charity Help Musicians has published their second part of their research “Can Music Make You Sick?“. In the first part, they concluded that musicians are far more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and drugs. The second part gives an answer to the why, with some recommendations.

Musicians experience most stress from precarity. The unpredictability of earnings and of work makes it very stressful for musician at every stage in their career. Other factors they found to be very stressful especially to musicians are the cultural norms and working conditions. Being a musician is more than a job, your whole identity is being a musician. As musician, you get feedback all the time. Because being a musician is your identity, it’s difficult to not take it personally.

The importance of relationships is another major factor. Many musicians find it difficult to maintain good relationships with family and friends, because music is always more important. Irregular working hours are another hurdle in relationships. While many musicians look for friends in the music business, they often find out that “this industry has no friends” (R&B singer-songwriter, London).

The recommendations go from a code of best practice, that is a voluntary code that companies can apply, via more specialist mental health support services for musicians, to better education about the mental risks of working in the music business. How important more care for mental health is, shows in the wide self-exploitation of musicians.

What support systems do you have and use, to take care of your mental health?



Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.