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Can Music Make You Sick? Part 2: Qualitative Study and Recommendations


Part 2 of MusicTank/ University of Westminster research commissioned by Help Musicians UK, investigating musicians’ mental health… This 40-page report details qualitative analysis and findings from interviews with 26 musicians who were asked how their working conditions impacted on their mental health and general wellbeing.

Author/s: Sally Anne Gross and Dr. George Musgrave, 2017
Can Music Make You Sick? started as a survey of over 2,200 musicians in 2016—revealing that the music community may be up to three times more likely to experience depression compared to the general public (read here). This second part of the study delved deeper into these issues and set out to ask musicians how their working conditions impacted on their mental health and general wellbeing. It comprises semi-structured interviews of 26 respondents from a broad cross section of the industry who participated in the initial pilot study, undertaken by researchers Sally Anne Gross and Dr George Musgrave of the University of Westminster, who commented:
“This research is crucial step forward in our understanding of the complex relationship between the working conditions of musicians and mental health conditions. The honesty and poignancy of our interviewees has made possible this important work, and informed the service provision being implemented by Help Musicians, and for that we are truly thankful. We hope that this research can spark a wider debate both in the music industry about the welfare of those at its heart, and more generally about the damaging nature of precarious work”
Four key themes emerged from this research – money worries; poor working conditions; relationship challenges; harrasment/ bullying and discrimination – and concluded with three recommendations concerning education, a code of best practice and a mental health support service.
 “People might have a susceptibility to being anxious or being depressed, but if there’s an industry that’s going to draw that out of you it’s the music business” – Jamie Binns, Lateral Management

This study informed and guided Help Musicians UK nationwide musicians’ #musicmindsmatter campaign and subsequent mental-health service delivery, launching Autumn 2017.

Part 1:  Pilot Survey and Summary Findings is also available to download from this website, here.

Contact us about this study | visit Help Musicians for further details

Publ. October 2017