Lord knows it's been a trying time for anyone in the music industry. I'll refrain from giving you a list of reasons why, if you're in the sector you'll have firsthand experience and if you're not, well...just that little thing called COVID-19. Anyway, some of you will remember how during March and April of this year, charity and service Support Act invited our friends in the music industry to fill out its mental health survey. This was conducted in partnership with the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology. Well, the findings were released on May 25 and they revealed that our pals in the music industry are not doing well at all.
Across Australia, 1304 people working professionally in music and live performing arts participated in the survey, answering questions on mental health, finances, consumption of alcohol and working conditions. The results are a snapshot of how these folks are coping two years on since the pandemic first hit.
It tells us that 47% of participants lost their jobs due to the pandemic and that a third were significantly worried about becoming unemployed. Meanwhile, more than half of the participants reported incomes of less than $30,000 a year, a figure that sits them below the poverty line. Almost two thirds of people credited the pandemic for the decline in their mental health and, alarmingly, the data also indicates that 59% of those taking part in the survey experienced suicidal thoughts – which is 4.5 times more than expected from the general Australian proportion. On top of this, over half of participants have turned to drugs or alcohol as a way to deal with the stress from the past two years.
Although the findings are unsettling, they are essential to figure out how to make meaningful change and how to reach these people and communities in ways that resonate and are evidence-based. Over the course of the pandemic Support Act has handed out more than 16,000 Crisis Relief Grants to workers in the music and live performance industry, amounting to $35 million. As well as this, Support Act has held extensive prevention, education and training programs such as Mental Health First Aid, Workplace Wellbeing Check-Ins, First Nations-specific programming such as Yarning Strong, and the Wellbeing Helpline.
Find an explicit breakdown of the survey, along with a transparent analysis of the process and its limitations at the Support Act website.