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  • Writer's pictureTristan Hunt

Mental Health & Music in the Mix - AFEM panel at Brighton Music Conference 2018

L to R: Mike Hollingbery, Dan Tait, Coco Cole, Kezia Racher and Tristan Hunt. Credit and thanks for the pic to our friends at Inflyte

One of the most pressing health issues of our time is especially important in the electronic music industry. A 2016 report by leading UK music charity Help Musicians showed that people working in the music industry are 3 times more likely to have mental health issues than the general public.

At this year's Brighton Music Conference (BMC) on April 26th a broad set of industry experts gathered in the Professional Theatre to discuss this pressing topic. With the tragic passing of Avicci coming less than a week before the timing was particularly poignant. The panel's title was 'Mental Health & Music In The Mix', which I had the honour of moderating for the Association For Electronic Music (AFEM).

After a quick introduction from each of the panelists Dan Tait, from Pioneer DJsounds, kicked off the conversation by recollecting his insights as a film producer from shooting the electronic music mental health documentary 'Why We DJ - Slaves To The Rhythm'.

Dan Tait from Pioneer DJsounds talking about Slaves To The Rhythm

Dan sighted long, unsociable hours and extensive travel as key issues which artists face and can precipitate loneliness, anxiety and depression. These were themes which DJ, producer and broadcaster Coco Cole echoed. She further illuminated these points by sharing her personal experiences of how factors such as long hours and lack of sleep can impact an artist by causing anxiety. Coco talks in depth about these issues in this month's edition of DJ Mag.

Artist and broadcaster Coco Cole sharing her experiences on mental health from an artist view point

Mike Hollingbery from Brighton based web design and creative agency Bozboz spoke about the topic from a entrepreneurs perspective. He highlighted how widespread the issue of mental health was and the fact that although these issues affect artists they also cut across the music industry as a whole.

Kezia Racher, from leading UK music charity Help Musicians, went on to talk about how her charity had successfully researched the need for specific mental health support for the music industry and addressed it by deploying the Music Minds Matter's campaign. Central to this campaign is a 24/7 freephone number offering support for mental health issues.

You can contact the 24/7 helpline on 0808 802 8008.

It was a moving experience to hear our panelists stories and truly sad to hear an update later that day that Tim Bergling (Avicci) had 'died of an apparent suicide'. The news broke that evening as we were doing a special BMC screening 'Why We DJ - Slaves to the Rhythm'. There's a huge amount of work still to be done to prevent mental health issues arising and helping those that have mental health problems already. But with a massively increased focus by the music industry at large on addressing the topic, with much greater resourcing now being provided for solutions, the tide is finally starting to turn.

If you work in electronic music and have had experiences of mental health issues I would love to hear from you.

For more info on this AFEM panel check out the BMC 2018 blog by our friend's at Inflyte.

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