71% of musicians experience anxiety or depression

Help Musicians UK have have published the findings of their Music and Depression survey. It is the largest survey of its kind ever undertaken in UK

Since publishing a review into the general health of musicians in 2014, Help Musicians have been organising and conducting this study. In association with Westminster University and Music Tank, it looks specifically at the mental health of musicians and the effects that the life of a working musician has on someone’s mental well-being. There’s been a concerted effort to shift the stigmas and prevailing opinions surrounding these matters in recent years. In the world of Dance music especially artists are beginning to talk about their mental health, with high profile acts like Benga and Motor City Drum Ensemble having spoken out in recent years.

The report is far reaching but the headline is pretty simple: ‘musicians are suffering from anxiety and depression in huge numbers’. 71% of those surveyed said they had experienced anxiety and 69% said the same about depression. When compared to government data regarding the general public this suggests that someone who self-identifies as a professional musician is three times more likely to have these problems than the average person.

Perhaps the most significant element to come from this study is the widely shared view that it is the pressures of the industry that contribute the most. Participants widely state that making music is therapeutic. That said, the pressures of uncertain income, and the amount of identity and self-worth wrapped up in a piece of music’s reception, make the life of a working musician fraught with the danger of mental health problems.

Part two of this study will delve deeper into the framework of the industry and what dynamics might contribute to these conclusions. Read the full report here.