The mental health of a musician has been rarely looked at or acknowledged over the many decades of music. The topic is quite under-researched, yet we've seen many cases of mental breakdowns and behaviours that sometimes seem odd or bizarre to the rest of us. Could these bizarrities be coping mechanisms? Potentially. When living in a world of fame, some behaviours and processes are not considered within the 'norm' and could be attributed to coping with media and the demands accompanying the role of being in the public eye. The side we are more familiar with is the musician who aspires for a career embodying fame and fortune. The musician with a desire to 'make it' can spend many years trying yet it is a lottery-type business that guarantees nothing leaving the artist with no acknowledgment whatsoever.
My interests in musicians' mental health cover a variety of topics and levels of musicianship; the established celebrity and up and coming artists.
My research is underway with the University of Brighton to provide more knowledge on within the field of health sciences. Information we be exlpored through the broadcast in my podcasting venture Facing Mel's Music.
A Musician's Resilience
Musicians are resilient human beings with a strong sense of duty and responsibility towards their audiences. Despite the way a performer feels, it takes quite a lot of convincing for a performer to stop the show at a time when they probabyly should take a break. Often a musician will do whatever they can to get into the mood and vibe of their audiences to keep going. as usually, A performing artist has to be on the same 'feelgood' page as their audience for a successful show.
The Show Must Go on...
It is only much later, potentially years later, that a musician's suffering comes to light. Often we don't have the angle of what's going on in a musician's personal world. Famous musicians have suffered mental breakdowns due to internal strains held for lengthy periods of time. Such scenarios have proven that musicians tend to suffer in silence and carry on regardless, but at what cost?
Whether for fear of being ridiculed, belittled, or the fear of losing the spotlight, the reality of difficulties only lives behind the mask of the performer. The performer conceals all sufferings to please their audiences and to maintain the upkeep of a strong professional image.
Keeping up the facade of a well-established artist is at the core of maintaining success yet such efforts can be catastrophic. The reliance often depends on reputation and image, particularly with reference to maintaining their fan base and status within the limelight. Being seen as having mental health problems could seem a weakness to many, but in actual fact, it is the very opposite. There is an inauddinate amount of resilience involved in being a performing artist.
Acknowledging the qualities of being human with realistic limitations can be appealing. The way an artist connects with their fan base can set them up for a lifetime of 'audience/performer' relationships. Fans generally move with an artist; fans are loyal and compassionate particularly when famous artists display honesty with theirs needs.
Regardless of whether musicians are famous playing Wembley Stadium or the local pub in Wembley, there are mental health considerations to understand from the perspectives of performing artists' lives. A multitude of complexities come into play when pursuing the rocky road of music. From image and identity to social and cultural capital, it all depends on the endeavours of the artist and the desired goals or aspirations. The higher the aim, the higher the potential fall. If gigging local pubs and clubs is your thing and making a humble living, then your place is safer. It is generally the musicians with higher aspirations that are more likely to feel the pains of the industry. Musicians with high aspirations are likely to require emotional and mental health support to accompany their journeys. At the other end of the spectrum, the performer with fame also needs support and assistance to maintain their groundedness and cope with the demands. either way, it is essential to self-care as a musician and to seek professional assistance when the need arises.