New Study Paints A Hellish Picture Of Mental Health In The Australian Music Industry

"They tell us that they’re being paid less than before...and their mental health continues to decline."

ableism music industry photo

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A report into the experiences of professionals working in the Australian music industry has been released this week which paints a nightmarish picture of the sector during the pandemic.

— Content Warning: This article contains statistics about suicide and mental health. — 

In a national study of over 1,000 musicians, Australia charity Support Act revealed that the music industry faces a mental health crisis, with women and non-binary people in particular reporting that they had experienced high levels of distress in the last two years.

According to the survey, 59 percent of participants had experienced suicidal thoughts, a rate four and a half times higher than the national average figure. More than half of the participants reported that they had used drugs and alcohol to help with the stresses of daily life, with 17 percent responding that substance abuse had impacted their ability to function at work.

Over a third of participants reported that their annual income in the industry was below the poverty line at $30,000 per annum, with 47 per cent of responders labelling their work schedule as “unpredictable”.

Only 15 percent of responders answered that they felt safe in their workplaces, with unsafe working conditions, bullying, racism, unwanted sexual attention, and ageism all being contributing factors.

Support Act CEO Clive Miller says the aftershocks of the pandemic are continuing 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 us returning to this ‘new normal’,” Miller told Junkee. “They tell us that they’re being paid less than before; there’s increased competition for venues, gigs and ticket sales; they’re still getting COVID and having to cancel or postpone shows; and their mental health continues to decline.”

Miller has called on the federal government to “help the industry create sustainable culture and behaviour change around these issues”.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing a mental health crisis you can immediately contact the below services for help:

Lifeline: 13 11 14
Suicide Crisis Text Line: – 0477 13 11 14

If you’re a member of the music industry, you can receive free counselling by calling the hotline below:
Support Act National Support Line: 1800 959 500