skip to main content

Musicians Census Finds That Three in Ten Musicians Report Having Poor Mental Wellbeing

Further report findings from the first ever UK Musicians’ Census show that almost a third of professional musicians in the UK are experiencing poor mental wellbeing, due to factors such as low pay, career barriers and witnessing or experiencing discrimination.

Published: 24 November 2023 | 4:40 PM
Male musician sat in front of a keyboard and microphone deep in thought and concentration.
Having a mentally healthy workforce must be a priority for us all. Image credit: Shutterstock.

The Mental Wellbeing Insight Report follows on from the launch of the first ever Musicians’ Census from the MU and Help Musicians, completed by nearly 6,000 musicians across the UK. This report focuses on the mental health of those working as musicians and paints a worrying picture.

Key findings

  • Four in ten musicians with very negative mental wellbeing are likely to leave their career in music within five years
  • Musicians in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland report lower mental wellbeing than their English counterparts
  • Those who work in dance music are most likely to have negative mental wellbeing
  • 41% of students studying music reported negative mental wellbeing, highlighting the need for dedicated support for those at the very early stages of their career, helping to prevent crises before they arise and supporting the future generation to stay healthy
  • The lowest earners (earning less than £7,000 a year from music) were found to be twice as likely to report low mental wellbeing compared to those earning £55,000+
  • The number of musicians who report negative mental wellbeing increases to 43% of LGBTQ+ musicians and half of disabled musicians
  • Half of musicians with low mental health say they are in debt
  • Experiencing or witnessing discrimination whilst working in the music industry were also found to be linked to negative mental wellbeing.

Having a mentally healthy workforce must be a priority for us all

Naomi Pohl, MU General Secretary says: “The work of Music Minds Matter and other organisations who provide mental health support is vital in an industry which can be detrimental to workers’ health and wellbeing.

“At the same time as providing support for those who need it, as an industry we need to tackle the root causes of poor mental wellbeing. The Musicians’ Census has clearly identified contributing factors such as low pay, career barriers and witnessing or experiencing discrimination.

“It is particularly concerning that LGBTQ+ and disabled musicians experience some of the highest rates of low mental wellbeing and the industry needs to work harder and faster to remove the barriers these communities of musicians face. These are all issues that are within the music industry’s power to change.

“Musicians are the lifeblood of the music industry and there’s a clear link between poor mental wellbeing and leaving the industry. Having a mentally healthy workforce must be a priority for us all.”

Music Minds Matter

Music Minds Matter is the sister charity of Help Musicians, which provides support to help everyone working in music build and maintain good mental wellbeing, whilst also providing a 24/7 support line for those struggling.

Find out more about Music Minds Matter.

Get advice and support on mental health and wellbeing

Discover a wealth of advice and resources to help musicians to look after their mental health and wellbeing.

Get advice and support on mental health and wellbeing

Continue reading

View from the back of the room of all hands raised in a support of our motion at the LGBT+ Conference.

MU Motion on LGBTQ+ Musicians Passed at STUC Conference 2024

The MU sent a delegation to this year’s STUC LGBT+ Workers’ Conference in May, where our motion on tackling transphobia, ensuring culturally relevant mental health provisions and improvements to the Equality Act passed unanimously.

Published: 17 June 2024

Read more about MU Motion on LGBTQ+ Musicians Passed at STUC Conference 2024
Silhouettes of crowd in front of a small festival stage in blue light.

Association of Independent Festivals Endorses MU Access Rider Scheme

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has endorsed the MU’s Access Rider to its membership and will be holding a session to explain what access riders are, why we need them, and why festivals should adopt them as a standard part of all contracting.

Published: 03 June 2024

Read more about Association of Independent Festivals Endorses MU Access Rider Scheme