You’ll notice that mental health is a major topic in current music news. A study by Victoria University earlier this year, which The Age described as “the most comprehensive study of entertainment industry workers anywhere in the globe, ” made national news and revealed some shocking statistics. It was revealed that 25% of artists and 50% of roadies had attempted suicide or thought about it. However, none of those surveyed had sought treatment. It was found that performers live a shorter life expectancy than the rest of the working population. According to ABS, the average Australian salary for performing artists is $78,800. However, this report showed that performers earn an average of $44,600.

Artists are generally known for being ‘tortured’. There may be some evidence to support that reputation. Scientists have shown that musicians are more sensitive than those who don’t play music or don’t have any musical experience. When you consider the unpredictable nature of employment and financial resources in the industry and the wide availability of drugs, it becomes clear that both nurture and nature are important factors in an artist’s struggle.

While we cannot change nature, we can alter how we care for our artists. What is it about the music industry that causes unstable mental health? And what can we do about this?

To find out what the music industry is experiencing, we spoke openly with musicians and workers in the music industry about their mental health. Most of the names were kept anonymous to protect their privacy, so we’ll call them A-B, B, C and D, E, and F!

It is reported that the Music Industry has a higher suicide rate and mental health problems than other industries. What are your thoughts?

All artists should be treated as if they were as valuable as water, shelter, and life.

Anxiety, stress, drug, alcohol, lack of sleep, unhealthy foods, financial struggle, and fewer opportunities in the industry.

This is not the main cause, but rather a large portion of people with mental health problems find great outlets in the creative process. I believe we have a better representation in our industry and artist community than average. While the creative process can provide a great way to self-medicate mental health issues, it can also lead to extreme highs and lows, exacerbating mental health problems. The music industry is known for allowing high levels of self-medication, which can be harmful to those trying to manage positive mental health. This combination of creatives, lifestyle, and self-medication is what I believe explains the above-average representation. The highs and lows of our creative industries and their workers are similar to FIFO workers. I believe there may be some lessons to be learned from their approach to addressing workforce needs.

What can we do to overcome stigmatization in discussing mental health issues openly?

Apart from crisis management, there are also the natural patterns and behaviours of the ups and downs in life. The manager is often the first to call for help, advice, coaching, and support.

How can we help? – Support legislation that provides funding for artists and workers in the music industry.

Donate or get involved in charities such as Entertainment Assist and Support Act.

Tell someone if it is necessary. Keep an eye out for signs and symptoms in your peers. When discussing mental health issues with colleagues in the industry, be honest and open.

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