Despite the easing of pandemic restrictions around the world, new figures from the UK-based charity Help Musicians show that the mental-health crisis within the industry is accelerating.
The charity runs a 24/7 mental health support line called Music Minds Matter, which provides musicians with access to accredited therapists. Demand for the helpline's services has almost doubled in recent times. Between January 1 and September 30, 2021, the number of musicians seeking counselling increased by 94.4% compared with 2020.
However, previous work carried out by the charity suggests that mental health issues were already prevalent in the music industry before the pandemic began. Back in 2016, Music Minds Matter partnered with the University of Westminster and MusicTank to produce a large-scale study surveying the state of mental health in the industry. The study's first phase found that 71.1% of (self-selected) respondents had experienced panic attacks or high levels of anxiety in relation to their work. Participants cited causes such as poor working conditions, a lack of recognition for their work, the bodily impacts of being a musician, and gender inequality as pertinent factors in musicians' mental wellbeing.
In April 2021, Music Minds Matter was able to expand its reach following an injection of ₤300,000 (to be used across a three-year period) by British music licensing company PPL. The funding was granted in response to a survey which suggested that 87% of musicians had experienced a significant decline in the state of their mental health since the pandemic began.
"It’s so exciting to see live music gradually return, but the rising number of musicians seeking counseling in 2021 highlights that the mental health impact of the pandemic is far from over," said James Ainscough, the Chief Executive of Help Musicians. "In what can already be a very challenging profession, the added pressures of the past 18 months and the uncertainty of what lies ahead while careers are re-built, has created the perfect storm for musicians and their teams who are battling to maintain their mental health."
“These figures make it clear that many in the music industry are still feeling the impact of a very difficult past 18 months," said PPL Chief Executive Peter Leathem. "So as live music returns, nightclubs re-open and we return to offices and public spaces, we must continue to support those who are still in need. Music Minds Matter is playing a crucial role in this and we are very proud to help the service continue to deliver excellent care and expand its offer.”