May is Mental Health Awareness Month, designated each year as a period to spread awareness and education about the importance of mental health care in the U.S. The month has taken on added importance during the ongoing pandemic, during which millions of musicians and other music industry workers have been cut off from their livelihoods during the widespread shutdown of live events.
While mental health care is critically important for music workers even in a normal year, COVID-19 has had profound effects on the mental well-being of those most impacted. According to the 2020 Wellness in Music Survey, a report published by the Recording Academy’s charitable arm MusiCares, 26% of those surveyed reported moderate to severe levels of depression last year, while 53% said they were unable to receive mental health counseling due to lack of funds.
Those statistics point to an increased need for mental health resources for music industry workers this year and beyond. Below, Billboard has compiled a list of resources for those suffering from depression, anxiety and other negative mental health effects, many of them tailored specifically for those working in the industry.
The Actors Fund, which serves professionals in all entertainment-related fields, retains licensed social workers who are available to provide short-term mental health treatment, crisis intervention, supportive housing, vocational rehabilitation and referrals to outside mental health providers who understand the specific demands of the music industry. The organization also provides financial assistance for mental health care for entertainment professionals who meet certain criteria.
Backline connects music professionals and their families with mental health providers who have a background in the industry. The nonprofit’s range of services, which are provided free of charge for music industry professionals, also include mental health case management, support groups, educational resources and more.
To better serve the Black community, Backline recently announced a partnership with the Black Mental Health Alliance that will see the organizations team up to develop custom educational curriculums, workshops and other mental health resources customized for BIPOC music professionals. The partnership will include training the over 150 mental health providers in Backline’s clinical referral network on topics such as the history of systemic racism and racial microaggressions within the music industry, barriers to accessing mental health care within BIPOC communities and how these challenges can lead to negative mental health outcomes for individuals. Non-clinical trainings to corporations and individuals within the music industry will also be offered.
Music industry professionals and their families can also access a host of resources offered by Backline’s wellness partners — including Breathwrk, Wanderlust TV, Meditation Studio by Muse, GTHX and Hemi-Sync — for free by signing up for those services via Backline’s website.
Behind the Scenes offers counseling grants for entertainment technology industry professionals who need help paying for mental health care. Through its Mental Health and Suicide Prevention initiative, the organization also provides mental health first-aid training, suicide prevention resources, guides for how to talk with employees about mental health, an anonymous online self-assessment tool and more. In partnership with HelpPRO, the organization additionally offers a specially curated entertainment industry therapist finder.
This New York City-based WOC-led startup, which provides resources and education for underrepresented artists and other music industry entrepreneurs, hosts quarterly events focused on mental health featuring professionals from across the music industry.
HelpPRO, an organization dedicated to improving the public’s access to mental health resources, offers an entertainment industry-specific Therapist Finder search tool in partnership with the Behind the Scenes Mental Health and Suicide Prevention initiative. Using the tool, music professionals can find therapists who have either worked in entertainment themselves or treated clients working in the industry. Users can filter by location, type of insurance, sliding scale options and more.
MusiCares, the Recording Academy’s charitable arm, just introduced three new virtual support groups, in partnership with ASCAP, for music professionals: The Cyber Emotional Support Group, Women’s Support Group and Black Community Support Group. All three groups begin in May 2021 and will meet weekly.
In addition, MusiCares has announced a month-long lineup of free events in May to encourage musicians and other music industry workers to prioritize their mental health. These include talks, panels and workshops exploring the nuances of mental health among individuals working in the music industry.
Music Health Alliance currently offers two separate funds that provide low-income musicians and music workers with money for mental health care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first, known as the Music Business Mental Health Fund (formed in partnership with the Music Business Association and the Scars Foundation), offers funds to music workers who were either laid off during the pandemic or are currently employed by a member company of the Music Business Association; and who have either an adjusted gross income of $40,000 or less (projected for 2021) or fall 300% or more below the federal poverty line based on family size. The fund also offers to provide information on alternative resources for those who don’t qualify.
The second fund, established in partnership with the Country Music Association (CMA) Foundation, offers mental health grants of up to $500 to anyone who has worked in the music industry for more than two years or has credited contributions on four commercially released recordings or videos; and who has an annual household adjusted gross income of $60,000 or less (projected for 2021) or who are 450% or more below the federal poverty line based on family size. Grant recipients will be connected with additional resources if the funds fail to match their level of need.
The MITC is comprised of a group of psychotherapist and counselors who boast a broad range of music industry experience working at record labels, recording studios and publishing companies and as tour managers, bookers/promoters and more. Therapists in the collective have worked at high-end and residential treatment centers, rehab clinics and in private practice and represent a breadth of therapeutic trainings and specialties. Terms and rates are set by each individual clinician.
The organization additionally offers a guide to anxiety relief during COVID-19 that was compiled by the collective’s director, psychotherapist Tamsin Embleton, MITC business development leader (and former CAA touring agent) Laura Newton and others.
Located in Athens, Georgia and dedicated to ending the epidemic of suicide, Nuçi’s Space maintains a health and resource center for local musicians that provides support, connects individuals with access to affordable mental health treatment and more. The center was founded by Linda Phillips, whose 22-year-old musician son, Nuçi, died by suicide in 1996.
Together with health and wellness experts, Record Union put together The Wellness Starter Pack, a “toolbox for wellbeing” specifically for music creators that provides information and resources on how to prioritize their mental health holistically, with science-based guides on nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep and more.
Run by 10-year music industry worker and certified addictions counselor Dave Sherman, The Road to Rehab provides support for touring musicians struggling with addiction and mental health issues. Services include “on call” counseling via phone or Skype; in-person, full-time sober/life coaches; escorts to treatment facilities and more. Services are offered on a sliding scale based on financial necessity.
Started by former Universal Motown executive Shanti Das, Silence the Shame focuses on education and awareness-building, offering mental health trainings to companies including Sony Music Publishing, which recently partnered with the organization for a multi-year mental health program for its songwriters and employees.
The SIMS Foundation provides mental health and substance use recovery services and support for Texas-based musicians and music industry professionals, along with their dependent family members, who reside in the counties of Travis, Bastrop, Williamson, Burnet, Blanco, Hays or Caldwell. Those applying for assistance must provide proof that they have earned music-industry income in the last 12 months. Co-pays for appointments with SIMS clinicians are determined on a sliding scale. The organization additionally offers mental health trainings for music venue employees.