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Can Music Make You Sick? Part 1: Pilot Survey and Report


Part 1 of MusicTank/ University of Westminster research commissioned by Help Musicians UK, investigating musicians’ mental health… This 41-page report details the summary findings from 2,211 survey respondents and features 4 musician case studies.

Author/s: Sally Anne Gross and Dr. George Musgrave, 2016
Help Musicians UK has experienced a rise in the number of calls and applications for help from musicians experiencing mental health problems, and is seeking to understand and quantify their significance as well as find solutions to this issue within the industry.

“I find, on the whole, music to be a great release which helps when I’m feeling anxious or depressed…  [However], the stresses of being in the music industry, for me, are a big cause of uncertainty which to leads to stress, anxiety and depression.”

This research sought to reach out to stakeholders across a broad age and genre range in pursuit of a more inclusive and holistic reflection of the state of musicians’ mental health and industry practice, and extends its focus beyond musicians to all those involved in the creative music process to include producers, sound engineers, re-mixers, composers, songwriters, live crew, labels and publishers.
The headline findings confirmed what many feared but that no-one had as yet quantified:
  • 71.1% of respondents believed they had experienced incidences of anxiety and panic attacks
  • 68.5% of respondents experienced incidences of depression

Set against Office for National Statistics for the UK population as a whole (that indicate 1 in 5 of the population aged 16 years or older experience mental health issues), these findings revealed that the music community may be up to three times more likely to experience depression compared to the general public.

Help Musicians’ ongoing mental health campaign seeks to find solutions, rather than simply starting conversations, and will be informed by this academic study, which will explore how the music industry can have a negative impact on the mental health of those working within it and investigate initiatives that can tackle some of the issues.

This is a vital first step in seeking to understand how musicians and others working within the wider music industry in the UK experience mental health concerns, suggesting the source of their ill-health.

Part 2 of the study delved deeper into these issues and made policy recommendations that informed and guided Help Musicians UK nationwide musicians’ mental-health service as part of its #musicmindsmatter campaign.  It will be published on Monday 16 October, 2017.
“I LOVED music; it didn’t love me”
Part 2:  Qualitative Study and recommendations is also available to download from this website, here.