The effects of lockdown and fears about the impact of Brexit on the performing arts have prompted a “mental health crisis” of “unprecedented scale” amongst musicians, a charity has warned.
According to a survey by Help Musicians, 87% said their mental health had deteriorated since the start of the pandemic, with more than half (59%) saying worries about the post-Brexit landscape had also been a factor.
The study of 700 musicians from across the UK suggested respondents were not getting the support they needed.
Four in five of those experiencing mental health problems (81%) said they had not yet received a clinical mental health diagnosis to confirm their issues and allow them to seek professional help.
The research suggested this is having a range of consequences, with a third (36%) saying they are experiencing relationship issues and 41% citing worries around losing their home.
Financial concerns are a key cause of mental health problems in the sector, according to Help Musicians.
Some 96% are worried about their financial situation, with 70% not confident they will be “able to cope financially” over the next six months.
Half (51%) are earning nothing at all from music, while more than half are relying on Universal Credit (56%) and a third (32%) are relying on loans or handouts from friends or family.
A quarter (24%) said they were considering leaving the music profession for good.
Coronavirus restrictions effectively halted live music in the UK in March last year, although the announcement of a road map out of lockdown has buoyed the sector and prompted a rush of ticket sales.
Additionally, the UK’s post-Brexit travel rules, which came into force at the beginning of the year, do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the bloc, and have been criticised by high-profile figures including Queen drummer Roger Taylor.
Help Musicians chief executive James Ainscough said: “We can’t sugar-coat these findings. We are facing a mental health crisis amongst musicians on an unprecedented scale. Whilst there may be light at the end of the tunnel with a road map out of lockdown revealed, there is still substantial uncertainty around how quickly the music industry can recover, plus the catastrophic impact of the Brexit deal on musicians’ ability to tour. After a year of hardship, the ongoing uncertainty for musicians is taking a huge toll on mental health.
“We have been offering ongoing financial support to thousands of musicians throughout the pandemic, but offering money is just one part of what musicians need – we have also had to completely revamp the mental health support we offer to address this rapidly unfolding crisis.
“Musicians who cannot work don’t just suffer financially, they grieve for the creativity and connections that their music usually brings. This is why we have bolstered our mental health support for musicians across the UK.”
Help Musicians saw a 40% increase in demand in 2020 and has since grown its mental health support service.
Their offering includes a 24-hour phone line staffed by councillors and a debt service.