By Neil King

I’ve blogged about the issue of musicians and mental health before. It’s an issue that’s close to my heart, in fact I’ve just been part of a fund raising effort for Bournemouth and District Samaritans, who like many Samaritan groups up and down the country get a disproportionately large number of contacts from musicians and other creative types. I’m also writing this in the week that the Prodigy’s Keith Flint tragically took his own life. It’s a sad statistic that male musicians are more likely to be successful at committing suicide.

I was talking to a psychologist friend the other day about this subject and she mentioned that one of the reasons for it is that creatives are more likely to be burdened by self-doubt, particularly if there has been something really successful in their career, like a song or album that has taken off, but that another key factor can be expectation of fans.

There is a large affinity for dark, narrative driven content, look at the traditional folk songs that have survived for and have regularly been performed for more than a hundred years and there’s not a lot of happy ones in the list. Similarly there is much praise for artists break up albums or indeed, as with Throwing Muses’ Kristin Hersh, albums that actually document the artist breaking down. Fortunately Kristin had the strength and support of family and friends and was able to emerge out of the other side, but it’s no secret that the albums took her and by proxy us to some very dark places and is it really fair on musicians to expect them to go back to those dark places essentially for our entertainment ?

The other issue is that exercise, there is a lot of truth in healthy body, healthy mind, and creativity drawing, listening to and or making music, can be really helpful in combating depression, but are very much less effective when it’s those creative processes that may have taken you into that dark place to start off with. One of the most effective methods is to talk to family and friends if you feel your mental health may be suffering, health services are better equipped than they were, but if all else fails, there are always the Samaritans,

 

www.samaritans.org/

 

Get in touch.

On a more positive note, through Fatea I was involved in the launch of Mike Silver’s new AA side single ‘Not For You / Wrong Side Of Midnight’. It sees the start of Mike celebrating fifty years in this thing we call show business. There’s an album coming down the pipeline, but in the meantime join me in raising a glass to Mike Silver’s golden year.