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New study reveals 73 per cent of independent musicians experience symptoms of mental illness

A new study has revealed that almost three-quarters of independent musicians have experienced “stress, anxiety and/or depression” as a result of their work.

The results are based on a web survey of almost 1,500 independent musicians by Swedish digital distribution platform Record Union. As a result, the study found that 73 per cent of the surveyed population had encountered negative effects on their mental health, with anxiety and depression on the top of the list of symptoms. Of those who said they had suffered from mental illness, only 39 per cent had looked for treatment, and 51 per cent self-medicated, primarily through alcohol and drugs.

Among the surveyed artists, those in the age range of 18-25 had an even higher incidence, with 80 per cent of them experiencing negative mental health effects as a result of their music careers.

On top of depression and anxiety, 33 per cent of the artists had experienced panic attacks, 57 per cent worry about their mental health and well-being, and 41 per cent worry about it several times in a given day. Additionally, factors that contributed to the listed symptoms are cited as fear of failure, being evaluated by others, financial instability, and the “pressure to deliver.”

Only 19 per cent of the total respondents indicated that they believed the music industry was aiming to create a “sustainable music climate with healthy artists.”

“Our study is telling us that something needs to change,” Record Union CEO Johan Svanberg explained in a statement. “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?”

In addition to the study, Record Union will be donating $30,000 to projects that aim to prevent or treat mental illness in musicians. Groups interested in receiving the donations can submit details of their projects from May 7th to June 2nd here, and eventually viewers will be able to vote for their favourites until June 16th. The top 10 projects will then present in front of a panel of experts, who will ultimately choose which three projects will split the sum of money.

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