New study paints hellish picture of mental health in Australia’s music industry
“They’re telling us they’re being paid less than before…and their mental health continues to decline.”
A report on the experiences of professionals working in the Australian music industry was released this week which paints a nightmarish picture of the sector during the pandemic.
— Content warning: This article contains statistics on suicide and mental health. —
In a national survey of over 1,000 musicians, Australian charity Support Act found that the music industry is facing a mental health crisis, with women and non-binary people in particular saying they have experienced high levels of distress over the past two years.
According to the survey, 59% of participants had had suicidal thoughts, a rate four and a half times higher than the national average. More than half of participants said they used drugs and alcohol to ease the stress of everyday life, with 17% responding that substance abuse had impacted their ability to function at work.
More than a third of participants said their annual industry income was below the poverty line at $30,000 a year, with 47% of respondents calling their work schedule “unpredictable.”
Only 15% of respondents said they felt safe in their workplace, with unsafe working conditions, bullying, racism, unwanted sexual attention and ageism all contributing factors.
Support Act CEO Clive Miller said the aftershocks of the pandemic continued to have impacts on the mental health and financial wellbeing of people in the Australian music industry.
“We continue to hear stories from our service users (musicians, manager, crew, music workers…) about how the pandemic continues to affect them, despite our return to this ‘new normal'”, Miller told Junkee. “They tell us that they are paid less than before; there is increased competition for venues, concerts and ticket sales; they are still getting COVID and having to cancel or postpone shows; and their mental health continues to decline.
Miller called on the federal government to “help the industry create lasting culture and behavior change around these issues.”
If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis, you can immediately contact the services below for help:
Safety rope: 13 11 14
Suicide crisis text line: – 0477 13 11 14
If you are in the music industry, you can receive free advice by calling the hotline below:
National Support Act Helpline: 1800 959 500