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Can Music Make You Sick? Help Musicians UK reveals 'MAD' survey results

Help Musicians UK reveal survey results as part of MAD [Music And Depression] Campaign

Help Musicians UK, the leading independent charity for musicians in the UK, today publishes the findings of a study conducted by the University of Westminster/ MusicTank, exploring the mental health issues faced by musicians and the wider music industry and asking the question – ‘Can Music Make You Sick?’ It gives a striking insight into mental wellbeing in the industry.

·       A staggering 71% of respondents believed they have experienced anxiety and panic attacks.

·       65% reported they had suffered from depression.

·       The largest ever survey of its kind globally – with over 2,200 respondents

This suggests musicians may be up to three times more likely to suffer from the illness compared to the general public.

Respondents attributed this to the poor working conditions within the industry including: the difficulty of sustaining a living, anti-social working hours, exhaustion and the inability to plan their time/future.

“My depression is made worse by trying to exist as a musician... Rarely has playing music been detrimental to my health, quite the opposite...but the industry and socio-economic pressures...make this a f*****g s**** industry to try and make a living in”

The figures raise questions about what the music industry can do to establish a duty of care for those working within it. 

Compounding the problem is that 54.8% of those surveyed feel that there is a gap in the provision of services for musicians, with 46.6% wanting to see a dedicated counselling service for musicians.

“I’m not sure I’d say it’s the music that makes me sick. It’s the lack of things I’d consider success. It’s the lack of support doing something that’s not considered “real work””

‘Can Music Make You Sick’, is the largest survey of its kind in the UK, to date with 2,211 musicians taking part. The majority of respondents (66.2%) were between the ages of 18-35, with a relatively even gender split (55.2% male, 43.9% female). The largest group of respondents described themselves as musicians (39%) and worked across a wide variety of genres. Other professions represented included DJs, live crew and music management.

Richard Robinson, Chief Executive of Help Musicians UK said:

“Sadly the results of this survey don’t come as a surprise and paint a concerning picture of the conditions for those working in the music industry. This survey is a vital first step in helping us to establish the scale of the problem and it highlights the importance of the next phases of the survey, which will provide us with recommendations for launching the first music industry specific mental health service.

As the leading independent charity for musicians we are in unique position to commission this study and be able to look at the impact that working in the music industry has on people’s mental health.”

The Help Musicians UK MAD campaign is ongoing with this initial research enabling the charity to hear directly from the music industry on how their working conditions might be affecting their mental wellbeing. Phase two of the survey results will be revealed in early 2017 along with the announcement of a dedicated task force set up to tackle the delicate issue of mental health in the music industry.

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