Toronto indie label Royal Mountain has created a fund for artists’ mental health needs

'It's the right thing to do'

Toronto indie label Royal Mountain Records, which boasts artists like Alvvays, Dizzy, U.S. Girls, and Calpurnia, is working against the stereotype that an artist needs to be suffering to be creative. This past week, they took an unprecedented step for a record label by creating a fund to assist the acts on its roster in getting treatment for mental health and addiction issues.
 


Starting February 1st, every act signed under Royal Mountain gets access to up to $1,500 that they can use at their own discretion on mental wellness. Everything is completely confidential, with absolutely no strings attached. The money is “out of our pocket, and will NOT be a recoupable label expense,” the company released in a memo that went out to their signed bands. “To reiterate, the bands will NOT need to pay the label back for these expenses.”

“It’s the right thing to do,” Royal Mountain boss and Hollerado frontman Menno Versteeg explained to the Toronto Star. “It’s literally an everyday occurence where you run into something. In every band you know, there are people who are in art because they have something inside them that needs to come out, and often a professional helping that thing come out will serve a totally different purpose than it coming out just through your art.”
 


Versteeg thought of starting a mental wellness fund for the label’s artists after he benefited from therapy in recent years, but never had the option when he was on an indie musician’s income. Additionally, the label hopes to increase the fund, with full health benefits being their long term goal. Versteeg has already been contacted by two private donors who are willing to donate a significant amount of money to the wellness fund, so the ability to grow is there.

“I don’t want to say it runs deeper in any industry – I’m not friends with a lot of bankers so I don’t know – but there’s a normalization of mental illness in the arts,” Versteeg stated. “It’s like ‘Of course that person’s suicidal, he’s an artist.’ That idea that great art comes through pain, there’s a lot of truth to that, but that doesn’t mean that you need to live in pain your entire life and exist in pain.”
 


Ideally, Versteeg says that he would love to watch this turn into a resource that all Canadian musicians could have access to, but right now since they’re not a multinational label they have to think small.