Breaking the Silence: Music and Mental Health in the Industry


Mental health is a topic that is often stigmatized and swept under the rug in many industries. However, the music industry has gained a reputation for being particularly challenging when it comes to the mental health of its artists. From the pressure to constantly produce and perform to the lifestyle that often comes with being a musician, many factors can contribute to mental health issues in the industry. 

The Prevalence of Mental Health Issues in the Music Industry

Mental health issues are not uncommon in the music industry. In fact, studies have shown that musicians are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues than the general population. Some factors that contribute to this include the pressure to constantly produce and perform, the unpredictable nature of the industry, and the lifestyle that often comes with being a musician. Long hours, late nights, and unhealthy coping mechanisms can all take a toll on mental health.

At the onset of the pandemic, Shubostar, a Mexico City-based DJ and founder of Uju Records, suffered from a panic disorder. “I felt like my career disappeared,” she told RA. Being someone who had placed too much of her self-worth in work accomplishments, the breakdown of nightlife during the pandemic was difficult for her. “After a few weeks, all of a sudden, I started to feel strange things such as the ground moving, [my] vision fading in and out again.” Her symptoms led her to visit a psychiatrist who prescribed her anti-anxiety medication.

It’s not just established musicians who are at risk, either. Up-and-coming artists are also at risk for mental health issues as they try to make a name for themselves in a highly competitive industry. The pressure to succeed can be overwhelming and can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and self-doubt.

The Impact of Mental Health on Musicians and Their Careers

Mental health issues can have a significant impact on musicians and their careers. In addition to the personal toll these issues can take, they can also affect the ability of musicians to produce and perform. Depression, for example, can make it challenging to find the motivation to write and record music or to get on stage and perform. Anxiety can make it difficult to handle the stress of touring, leading to missed shows and canceled performances.

In addition to the impact on their careers, mental health issues can also take a toll on musicians’ personal lives. Substance abuse is not uncommon in the industry and can be a way for musicians to cope with the pressures they face. However, this can lead to addiction and further exacerbate mental health issues.

Coping Mechanisms and Resources for Musicians Dealing with Mental Health Issues

Fortunately, there are resources available to help musicians who are struggling with mental health issues. Many musicians find that therapy or counseling can be helpful in managing their symptoms and getting the support they need. Meditation and mindfulness practices can also be helpful in managing stress and anxiety.

There are also organizations that are dedicated to supporting the mental health of musicians. The non-profit organization MusiCares, for example, offers a range of services and resources to musicians, including counseling and support groups. The organization also provides financial assistance to musicians struggling with mental health issues. 

The Role of Music in Mental Health Treatment and Recovery

Music can also play a role in mental health treatment and recovery. Music therapy is a form of therapy that uses music to help individuals manage their emotions, improve their mood, and reduce stress and anxiety. This can be particularly helpful for musicians who may have a strong connection to music and find it easier to express themselves through music than traditional talk therapy.

In 2013, McGill University reviewed 400 research papers, which suggested that “listening to music was more effective than taking prescription drugs when it comes to easing pre-surgery anxiety.”  

In addition to music therapy, many musicians find that creating music can be a form of self-expression and can be therapeutic in itself. Writing and recording music can be a way for musicians to process their emotions and work through their struggles.

Musicians Who Have Spoken Out About Mental Health

Many musicians have spoken out about their struggles with mental health in an effort to reduce the stigma surrounding these issues and to encourage others to seek help. In a revealing interview with Pitchfork, Santigold discussed her struggles with anxiety. LSDXOXO has been open about his social anxiety, and Lily Allen has spoken out about living with bipolar disorder.

These musicians and others like them have helped to bring attention to the importance of mental health in the industry and have encouraged others to seek the help they need.

The Responsibility of the Music Industry to Address Mental Health Issues

The music industry has a responsibility to address the mental health issues faced by its artists. This includes providing resources and support to musicians who are struggling, as well as working to create a culture that is more open and supportive of those who are dealing with mental health issues.

Record labels, managers, and others in the industry can play a role in this by prioritizing the mental health of their artists and providing resources and support when needed. They can also work to create an environment where mental health issues are not stigmatized and where artists feel comfortable seeking help. 

Organizations and Initiatives Working to Support Mental Health in the Music Industry

There are many organizations and initiatives working to support the mental health of musicians in the industry. In addition to MusiCares, there is the non-profit organization Backline, which provides mental health and wellness resources to musicians and their families. The organization also offers a helpline for musicians who need immediate assistance.

The Austrian Society for Music Performance Medicine and Music Physiology (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Musik und Medizin) brings medical professionals, musicians, music educators, music therapists, and researchers together to promote the use of music in healthcare and to explore the medical and therapeutic benefits of music.

The You Are Not Alone campaign is another initiative that aims to support musicians’ mental health. The campaign encourages musicians to share their stories and to offer support to others who may be struggling.

Moving Towards a More Open and Supportive Industry Culture

The music industry has a long way to go when it comes to addressing the mental health issues faced by its artists. However, by bringing attention to the prevalence of these issues, providing resources and support, and working to create a more open and supportive culture, progress can be made. Musicians who are struggling with mental health issues should know that they are not alone and that help is available. By working together, we can create an industry that prioritizes the mental health and well-being of its artists.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, please seek help. The global Samaritans helpline is available 24/7 at 116 123.