Artists should continue to highlight mental health

Singer Lady Gaga (pictured above) sings on her Joanne World Tour. Gaga recently increased awareness of proper mental health care by sharing her own personal experiences with the public. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

The dark secret of the music industry has slowly crawled into the light for the public to see. As mental health becomes a more common conversation within the music industry, society is seeing inside the minds of those they idolized. 

Most recently, Lady Gaga discussed this important topic in her speech as she accepted an Elle Women in Hollywood award. She came forward with her experiences with sexual assault and her honest thoughts on mental health.

“After I was assaulted when I was 19, I changed forever. Part of me shut down for many years,” Gaga said. “After I shared what happened to me with very powerful men in this industry, nobody helped me. No one offered my guidance or a helping hand to lead me to a place where I felt justice.” 

The hidden nature of mental illness in the arts rose through a survey conducted by ticketing company and event guide Skiddle. Among some 520 promoters, venue operators and event organizers they surveyed, Skiddle found that 82 percent were suffering continuous levels of stress.

“It was kind of an idea that was started by someone in the office who is a music promoter,” Skiddle employee Jimmy Coultas said. “He thought it was a bit of a prevalent problem within the industry. And then we did the study and realized that it was a much bigger, in fact quite staggeringly so bigger, issue than we had all envisaged.”  

According to the survey, 67 percent of respondent said they had anxiety, 40 percent said they had struggled with depression, 10 percent said they developed symptoms associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as a result of their work and 47 percent said their work in music “often led to a constant feeling of anxiety and sadness.” 

“The results of this survey do not make for an easy read,” co-founder and director of Skiddle Ben Sebborn said according to Digital Music News. “It’s troubling to see that so many promoters are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing. 

A previous survey administered by Help Musicians UK found that of 2,000 musicians they interviewed, 71 percent experience anxiety and 68.5 percent deal with depression. 

The issues those in the industry suffer from relate to the absence of a regular income, the lack of a formalized support system and the negative effect their jobs have had on their relationships. 

While many people like Lady Gaga have started to speak about mental health failures in entertainment, the industry has a long way to go before it finds effective fixes. 

It’s clear that mental health problems are considerably higher in the performing artist community than in the general population; the industry is increasingly recognizing the need for support, as noted by Director of the British Association for Performing Arts Medicine Claire Cordeaux.

“Skiddle’s survey of promoters, one of the first of its kind, is a timely reminder that it is not just performers that need help,” Cordeaux said to Digital Music News. 

Those in the industry who are stressed and depressed due to their occupation need to be visible as they take steps towards better understanding of mental illness. The focus should not lie solely with the known performers. There should be more steps forward in creating a support system. 

“We are not just objects to entertain the world. We are not simply images to bring smiles or grimaces to people’s faces. We are not members of a giant beauty pageant meant to be pit against one another for the pleasure of the public,” Lady Gaga said in her speech.

A more inclusive recognition of suffering individuals and a greater understanding of how to help those in need of psychological support in the industry is greatly needed for the music industry to move forward in a healthy way.