UK Musicians Mental Health Support Line Launched

A 24/7 mental health service dubbed Music Minds Matter is for “anyone working in the music industry,” according to Help Musicians UK, the charity behind the initiative.  

Richard Robinson
– Richard Robinson
Help Musicians UK CEO

The help line offers general advice but also specialized consultation on legal issues, debt and benefits for anybody working in the industry, from artists to managers, promoters, roadies and crew. Signposting, clinical pathways and professional therapeutic services, including counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy are also part of the service.

The help line also provides access to Help Musician’s grant funding. The charity claims it experienced “a 22 percent increase in requests for help from musicians across the UK,” and spent £1.9 million ($2.5 million) helping these individuals.

Those needing help and emotional support can call 0808 802 8008 free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Artist Nadine Shah said “the music industry is in such need of a service like this. It’s about time we had a service that is always there for people, one that really caters to the myriad of mental health challenges and complexities that musicians and people in the music industry face. As someone that has experienced struggles of my own, I know how important it is to know that I could access help and support when I need it.”

The charity’s CEO Richard Robinson added: “With 96 years of experience, we understand the complexity of being a musician and recognize the need for support that reflects the nature of the business, whilst providing a personalized service tailored to each person we help.”

Robinson said the Music Minds Matter initiative was “the biggest ever undertaking by HMUK, which accepts no government funding, but only private donations. “We are earmarking just under £1 million over the next four years and we fully expect the service to grow and evolve. However, this can only happen in close consultation and collaboration with the music industry and those organizations already providing mental health support.”

The topic of mental health in the music industry is picking up pace at the moment. There is another UK charity dedicated to mental health in the music industry called Music Support. One of its founders, Matt Thomas, spoke at this year’s European Festival Conference, Nov. 22-25 in Larvik, Norway, about work-life-stress-health balance in the music industry.

Thomas has been working in the business for 25 years, 12 of which he’s been sober from drugs and alcohol. He told his story of making drinks and drugs a part of his job. “I was really good at my job, kept getting promoted and receiving pay raises. I was out till 5 a.m., and back at the desk at 9 a.m.”

A lifestyle that led to a gradual decline toward Thomas’ late 30s. In the end, his marriage failed and he was convinced he’d die from his addiction. He relapsed several times, because “a lot in the industry doesn’t work for a sober man.” 

He described the music industry as the modern-day version of the circus. But some day, the circus ends and you come back to reality, he said. Thomas didn’t blame the music industry, pointing out that he met bankers with the same problems. He explained how a combination of “bio, psycho, social: genes, psychological makeup and social circumstances” determined a persons affinity for addiction.

And while “there is no solution. There is no magic button that’s going to cure these issues,” one could only find coping mechanisms. Which is what charities like Music Support, which is run by former addicts and offers its help for free, or Help Musician’s UK, can help with.

“I’m in a daily remission. That’s all I’ve got. I’ve got today,“ Thomas concluded.