So, today is World Mental Health day. I’m not going to pretend that I’m any kind of expert on mental health, I’m not at all, but I am someone who is very passionate about how I and the people around me feel.
The thing is, mental health is something we ALL have and ALL experience in different ways. Being someone who’s everyday life, thoughts and goals often revolve around music, I want to talk a little about how music affects me and those around me. Music is an industry in which I find absolute joy and excitement; the people I meet and look up to inspire me and make me want to do more, be better, build friendships. Yet, it is an industry in which I, and most others, find that the input heavily outweighs the output on a day to day basis.
Music is an industry which is full of comparison and built on turning your creativity into business. It involves consistently putting energy and drive into reaching out to people with the hope of creating opportunities to further your music only to 99 times out of 100 get either no response or a “no.” It’s often difficult to slow down, switch off and give yourself credit. Fun!
The part I find both most wonderful yet most dangerous of all in music is social media. This doesn’t just apply to music, but, in my own experience, every time I look at my phone it takes just seconds to see post after post in which someone else seems to be doing well or better than you. I was confronted recently by someone I have a lot of trust in who questioned the fact that lately all I post about is being happy, positive and excited. I was pretty hurt. In my eyes it simply comes down to that, every time I post saying I’m happy or excited about something with my music, it’s just the truth. I’m not lying. But it’s got me thinking that that’s where there is conversation to be had and that understanding needs to play a more important role in music and social media.
I have lots of days feeling like I’m trying really hard and getting nothing back and I’ve played countless gigs I’ve tried really hard to get and felt sad afterwards that they weren’t all I expected; I spend a lot of time and energy trying to make things happen with my music and it is sometimes nothing but mentally exhausting. Social media makes it easy to not see these things. It makes it easy for us to scroll and see people doing all of these big, exciting things while the days they have spent wondering why they are even trying are hidden. I’m by no means someone “successful” in music, but that doesn’t matter, it works the same way whether you are someone just starting out and trying to find their way or someone with a significant amount of success and online following.
Mental health is something we all experience just as we do physical health, except with mental health comes stigma, a lack of understanding and a lack of compassion. The majority of us, at the very least, if we don’t consider ourselves to struggle with mental health, know at least one person who our relationship with is affected by mental health. I want to be more open about the way I experience mental health in music and to remind you, if you are someone who’s life revolves around music like myself, which if we know each other then you probably are, to give yourself a pat on the back because you are doing great.
Use social media to celebrate yours and others’ achievements that have taken time, energy and persistence, I will certainly continue to do so, but be aware that social media doesn’t tell the whole story. Most importantly, talk to people! Talk to me, to others… talk about the good and the bad and allow social media to be something that has a positive impact on your mindset and goals.
I want to shout out my FAB uni BIMM London for inspiring me to think a bit more about mental health today and for the light they shine on mental health in music. I’m going to leave below some links to websites both they have shared and that I have found inspiring to myself as an artist if you’d like to check any out – also please share anything you think is worth people checking out below!
Music Support – http://www.musicsupport.org
Music Manager’s Guide to Mental Health – https://themmf.net/…/2018/01/Mental-Health-Guide-Digital.pdf
Noisey Guide to Music & Mental Health – https://noisey.vice.com/…/the-noisey-guide-to-music-and-men…
Help or Harm? How Social Media Can Impact Musicians’ Mental Health – https://noisey.vice.com/…/social-media-musicians-mental-hea…
David Gibbs’ (Music Manager) mental health blog – https://www.confessionsofafirsttimedad.com/…/social-media-w…