In June, I was excited to be invited to be part of an evening discussing Mental Health in the music and creative industries.
The event, at Platform London, Carnaby Street, was part of the Soho Music Month and aimed to consider the myth of the “Creative Genius” and the causes and role of mental dis-ease in creativity.
I joined the organiser, psychotherapist and writer Dawn Estefan, DJ Jumpin Jack Frost, spoken word artist Nego True and others, to be part of a panel discussion with an audience of creatives.
Primarily, we considered whether emotional upheaval was too often linked to the production of great pieces of art (evidenced by Adele’s many break up songs, Vincent van Gogh and Virginia Woolf ). We questioned if some of the greatest pieces of art could even have been created without the artists mental health being compromised and what that meant to an artist who was feeling rather content!
Attendees talked of the ‘commercial success’ selling of sadness or anger over happier themes and the pressure this placed on an artist to re-produce projects that resonated with audiences in this way.
The fickleness and fragility of a career in the creative industry, the unpredictable flow of cash accompanied by the trappings of fame (drugs / adoring fans / inauthentic relationships / time away from home) often provide a perfect breading ground for poor mental health – and the archetypal rock-star going into rehab or killing themselves is now a sad cliche, perhaps as a result.
Many in the audience felt that mangers, agents and record companies could do more to prepare and support artists to manage this better and one panellist spoke about the help-line she runs specifically for workers in the creative industry.
We shone a light on the help that was already available to people in need and also the things people can do to maintain a robust and resilient mental health regime, warding against times of stress or trauma.
I was delighted to see so many people there talking with honesty and vulnerability about this subject. As this kind of event demonstrates, this subject is growing in prevalence and importance. The more we can talk, without shame, about the issues that face us as individuals or the groups we identify with, the quicker we can chip away at the stigma and other barriers that prevent us from getting the help and support we need.