Fortunately, the artist mental health was a key point of discussions in 2017; however, unfortunately, it came in the wake of great loss. Several musicians lost their lives to suicide last year, including Chester Bennington (Linkin Park), Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Kim Jonghyun (SHINee), and Butch Trucks (Allman Brothers). When we lose those of such immense importance, it feels like their humanity comes crashing down and we realize that the turmoil they experienced is the same turmoil that we feel. As a society, we tend to forget that the people we look up to are no less human than we are. Fame does not make someone untouchable and, when we realize that, we become scared.
When it comes to mental health and suicide, losing someone close to us or someone that we admire can cause us to re-evaluate our current state. The industry has been going through a slow reevaluation process for the past couple years and recent events have pushed it into overdrive. Industry professionals are taking a moment of self reflection to ask, “Am I in that same place?” or “Could see myself getting to that place?” There are artists that are using their platform to speak up about their own personal experiences and to bring resources to their community.
Demi Lovato is known for her open conversations about her mental health and recently announced that her upcoming tour, Tell Me You Love Me, is partnering with CAST Centers, a mental health treatment center that focuses on healing the mind and body. CAST Centers will be offering free mental health counseling to fans that purchase a ticket to her concert. Fans only need to sign up HERE for the counseling event at the concert you are attending. Most recently, she is celebrating her 6 years of sobriety and has been further discussing her journey with addiction and mental illness.
A major voice in this discussion is Michael Angelakos of Passion Pit, who has been upfront and transparent about his mental illness and how it has affected his life as a touring musician. Throughout 2017, his main focus was on gathering data about touring in order to create a safer touring environment in the future. In an interview with Independent UK, Passion Pit has been working with Wishart Group, a company dedicated to mental health programs and services to the music industry. With this partnership, his goal is to “[collect] data and [develop] a system to accurately grade touring environments, stressors, pre-existing and tour-specific conditions” with the end goal of creating a system of checks and balances within the music industry that will establish safer touring environments.
These voices, experiences, and initiatives are the driving force that will help create a better environment for everyone. These discussions will come with difficult times and push back, but they will lead to a more productive, healthy, and profitable industry. Look for artist that are speaking up about their stories and listen to them. Listen to your friends, your family, your peers. Mental health affects us all and understanding them within our personal lives and within specific industries will be the first steps towards creating safer spaces.