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More than half of musicians have experienced mental health problems, survey reveals

Photo: Stokkete
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Almost 60% of professional musicians have suffered from depression or other psychological issues, while 82% have experienced money problems, a new survey has revealed.

The Health and Wellbeing Survey was conducted by musicians’ charity Help Musicians UK, in order to draw attention to the main issues affecting musicians today.

More than 550 professional musicians were surveyed, 13% of whom worked in musical theatre. Most – 59% – worked in classical music.

Antisocial working hours and work insecurity came out as being among musicians’ primary worries, while three-quarters of those surveyed had experienced performance anxiety during their career.

Of those who sought help for problems, 48% received professional help, primarily from a GP or through private medical treatment.

The survey revealed private medical treatment to be the most helpful. Of those who had consulted the NHS, almost half said they were disappointed with the response.

A report on the study said: “This suggests that the NHS may not be well equipped to deal with performance-related health problems although this and the reasons why musicians resort to private healthcare need more detailed research.”

HM’s help and advice manager, Nigel Hamilton, told The Stage: “Being a musician can be a uniquely rewarding career but it also brings unique pressures and 
challenges. The economic pressures and rapid changes affecting the industry as 
a whole also affect many 
musicians directly.

“We conducted this survey because it is important to understand these pressures so that we can support and help musicians in the most effective way.”

The prevalence of money problems among musicians 
is in line with the results of 
a 2012 study undertaken by the Musicians’ Union, which revealed that more than half of musicians earned less that £20,000 a year and only 35% could afford to pay into 
a pension scheme.

Diane Widdison, national organiser for education and training at the MU, said the results showed “a real need for musicians to have their concerns addressed”.

“We all want musicians 
to have long and productive careers with health and wellbeing issues being 
a priority,” she said.

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