Every musician has some experience of mental health whether first-first-hand or from colleagues. It’s something we learn to cope with, live with, and at times battle. Musicians are far more likely than the general population to have issues around mental health and it’s not the stereotypical tortured creative temperament, it is more the way we which we live as freelancers.
Life as a freelance musician
Our lifestyle can be unpredictable, with irregular working patterns, which can lead to lack of sleep routine. This also put pressure on relationships and families.
Financially it can be feast or famine, and this doesn’t seem to correlate with the amount of effort we are putting in! We often don’t have the luxury of sick pay that would enable us to take time out. The pressure we must put ourselves under constantly to be our best and be consistent can be immense and can contribute to performance anxiety and general anxiety.
Touring is often glamorised, but the reality is often a gruelling schedule with little sleep or downtime for any self-care. That’s without the general ups and downs of the performing buzz versus the realities of life.
Substance abuse and addiction can happen to anyone, and we are often surrounded by drugs and alcohol in our work, and it can easily become a coping mechanism. The narrative of sex drugs and rock and roll is changing but we need to look at the bigger picture and how it relates to mental health and the industry.
Post pandemic we are still facing many challenges. Returning to our work and finding new income streams can feel impossible. All this and government whose solution was to retrain in cyber and is consistently cutting funding, it’s no surprise we don’t always feel supported.
Musicians need specialist support
We do need specialist support as musicians, we need support from people who understand how we operate and what we do. I hope through this discussion we can show what is available to our community and how to access it. We don’t have employment packages, HR or councillors in our workplaces to help us; we must seek it ourselves and then see it through. Like everything else as a freelancer, it’s on us.
The power of talking
I believe conversations are always valuable, and by sharing our stories and experiences we can help others to recognise something in themselves they may need help with and guide them to what is right for them.
Join the discussion at Members’ Conference and hear about the issues musicians face and the initiatives designed to tackle them.
Learn more about the Members' Conference