Music & Mind begins - Reflections from the Help Musicians UK panel in Belfast.
Last month I was asked to take part in a panel to discuss mental health in the music industry.
The panel was set up by Help Musicians UK, a charity based in London who specialise in helping musicians with a variety of needs. I was invited on the panel as a professional musician and psychotherapist to give my perspective on what can be done facilitate a change in the way the music industry can help to support and manage the impact of the mental health needs of their artists. From my own perspective I have been lucky (or unlucky) enough to have seen first hand (and had my own personal experience of) the challenges involved with being a major label, signed band in the music industry.
During the panel I gave my own account of my journey into the commercial music industry and the struggles which I encountered. I described how the very demands of balancing touring, managing fatigue, stress and my own needs were a constant source of anxiety. Obviously with this impact came a positive sense of stimulation and the elation of being in a famous band at a time when bands were the pinnacle of popular music culture. The main body of the panel was directed at discussing the ways in which musicians can manage the strain of the experience alongside the hyper stimulation (at times synthetic) of the performing environment, and what labels and managers can do to try and contain this. My suggestions towards the panel were directed at the first level of administering this, which I perceive to be awareness and support. From this foundational awareness and the offering of support, an alliance can be formed which will allow for a variety of interventions to be made. In a similar approach to my psychotherapeutic practice I explained how this 'working alliance' needs to be nurtured in the very first instance of engaging in a relational context whether that be within a band environment or in therapy. It is (and was) my hope that the future of wellbeing in the music industry can start with this awareness and support and thus allowing a move towards the second stage of initiating and containing the wellness of performing artists.