As per a latest study, musicians are up to three times more likely to suffer from depression than the general public.
Help Musicians UK, an independent charity commissioned by Sally Anne Gross and Dr. George Musgrave, Music Tank/ University of Westminster, conducted a study into the mental health issues faced by musicians, as a part of their MAD (Music and Depression) campaign. As per the findings of the study called “Can Music Make You Sick?” , 68.5)% of musicians believed they had experienced depression, while 71.1% believed they had experienced anxiety and panic attacks.
The organisation revealed that 2,211 musicians responded to the online survey, making this the largest ever survey of its kind in the UK, to date. The majority of respondents (66.2%) were between the ages of 18-35. 39% described themselves as musicians (across genres), while others labeled themselves as DJs, live crew, songwriter/producer and other fractions of the music industry. Although most respondents were from London (39.5%), several submissions came from across the UK, demonstrating that this is a nationwide phenomenon (Probably even worldwide, we wonder).
Yes, the brooding musician phenomenon is the oldest one in the book of cliches. Several artists including deadmau5 and Avicii have even publicly opened up about their mental health in recent times. So, why are these numbers shocking? According to the data from the Office for National Statistics, gathered between 2010 and 2013, nearly 1 in 5 people over the age of 16 suffer from anxiety and/or depression. Compare the two numbers. Fundamentally, considering that musicians are people who follow their passion and use their work as an a outlet for their emotions, shouldn’t they be better of than the rest of us, mentally?
The survey has found that rather than the production of music, it is working in the industry that is contributing to their ill-health. The respondents cited several reasons ranging from poor working conditions including: the difficulty of sustaining a living, anti-social working hours, exhaustion and the inability to plan their time/future to lack of recognition for one’s work and even issues related to the problems of being a woman in the industry – from balancing work and family commitments, to sexist attitudes and even sexual harassment.
As one respondent explained: “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.”
Another elaborated: “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.’”
The study also found that 52.7% of the respondents found it difficult to get help, while 54.8% believed there were gaps in the help that was available to them.
You can read the summary of the study here.