At least 73% of independent musicians struggle with mental illness, according to a new study.
Swedish digital distribution platform Record Union surveyed about 1,500 musician participants earlier this year and found that nearly three-quarters reported suffering from various mental health issues. Specifically within the 18-25 age range, the percentage climbed to a staggering 80%.
Depression and anxiety appeared to top all lists as the two most prevalent conditions, while panic attacks also were mentioned.
“Our study is telling us that something needs to change,” Record Union CEO Johan Svanberg remarked in a statement (via Billboard). He added,
“It’s time to put the state of our artists’ mental health on the agenda, before streams and commercial success. We as an industry must wake up and ask ourselves: What’s our responsibility in this and what can we do to create a healthier music climate?”
The study also revealed alarming numbers regarding mental health treatment and the seemingly bleak outlook of these musicians.
Of those surveyed, less than 40% said they had sought out professional treatment; more than 50% claimed they turned to self-medication like alcohol and drug use. A dismal 19% of the participants said they felt the music industry was working to make conditions better for mental health.
While shocking, these numbers aren’t exactly surprising, as multiple reports in the past have identified musicians as a particularly vulnerable group — one that’s three times as likely to suffer from depression.
Mental health concerns have been brought to the forefront as of late following the recent deaths of high-profile artists like Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, Avicii, Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, The Prodigy’s Keith Flint, and Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison.
In 2018, both Garbage singer Shirley Manson and James Blake spoke extensively and candidly about their battles with mental illness and suicidal thoughts, and Ariana Grande has been utilizing her platform to encourage seeking mental health treatment.
Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos has especially been an outspoken advocate for mental health awareness, and similarly has expressed that the industry isn’t doing enough for its musicians. In a 2018 interview I conducted with Angelakos, he condemned the industry as “so archaic and obviously unhealthy that we can now prove that they, in fact, exacerbate or *create* these issues,” adding, “It’s like they’ve forgotten about the people that create their product.”
May is Mental Health Awareness Month in the US.