top of page

A Response to 'When Music Speaks'

Tonic Music were disappointed by a recently published report and felt the need to respond.

As a registered charity supporting the mental health of musicians and the wider music industry, we welcome research within the field and our Tonic Rider programme has been informed by the findings of several academic studies. However, the team were disappointed by a recently published report and felt the need to respond.


Our Response

The following is a response to the ‘When Music Speaks… Musicians’ Mental Health Interventions and Evidence of Effectiveness’ report published by Dr George Musgrave, Dr Sally-Anne Gross and Dr Daniel Carney on 6th March 2024 (for the Danish Partnership for Sustainable Development in Music), you can read the report here.

For the main body of the report, the authors conducted a ‘rapid review’ on the effectiveness of four ‘models of practice’ by ‘providers’ offering mental health support in the music industry. It should be noted that a rapid review is typically employed to consolidate findings from academic literature - not mental health services - therefore, in our view the chosen methodology was not appropriate. Although the authors stated the report was not intended to be a systematic review from which clinical recommendations were being made, the risk is that even informed readers could misinterpret the conclusions as such. With this in mind, the team at Tonic Music for Mental Health are disappointed the authors did not contact us at any point for information about the Tonic Rider programme.


Throughout the report, the authors grouped ‘providers’ under four ‘models’: ‘Crisis/Helpline’, ‘Preventative’, ‘Therapeutic’ and ‘Peer Support’. Tonic Rider was grouped under ‘Peer Support’ due to our Peer Support Groups, but the ‘Preventative’ (courses and workshops) and ‘Therapeutic’ (counselling and psychotherapy) services clearly outlined on our website were not considered. This is particularly concerning, since one of the conclusions was that none of the ‘models’ are sufficient in isolation and a more holistic/multi-faceted approach yields best results. Despite the authors stating that some providers offer more than one model, readers could misinterpret from the conclusions that the Tonic Rider programme does not provide holistic / multi-faceted services, which is factually incorrect and misleading.


In the section on ‘Peer Support’, the authors recognised that the Tonic Rider programme - or more specifically the Peer Support Groups - are led by appropriately qualified therapists, offering participants an opportunity to interact with music industry peers, under favourable conditions. Our team of facilitators, however, also includes mental health nurses, social workers and other clinical professionals, in addition to qualified therapists. The Tonic Rider programme is also open to all music artists, crew and industry professionals, yet the authors did not clearly state this in the report. This includes the provision of specialist Peer Support Groups, of which only one was mentioned. Both points are important to raise, as again readers could misinterpret the staff expertise and eligibility criteria of the Tonic Rider programme from these descriptions.


Finally, the authors state that mental health interventions should embed mechanisms in order to rigorously evaluate effectiveness. Over the past three years, the Tonic Rider team has in fact implemented rigorous evaluations of effectiveness (including with partner organisations), not only through the employment of clinical but also participant-led methodologies to inform future service provision. Again, the report does not mention our evaluations procedures for the Tonic Rider programme, and consequently, readers could misinterpret from this conclusion that such measures are not already being implemented.


We are proud at Tonic Music for Mental Health, to provide mental health training and support tailored for the music industry. All participants who register onto Tonic Rider are provided with a consultation appointment prior to attending the programme, which forms part of a registration process led by a triage team of mental health / social care professionals. This is to ensure the needs of the artists, crew and industry professionals we support, are met with the most appropriate service to address any identified risks or concerns.

As a registered charity, we are reliant on grant funding and donations, therefore, it is essential that information written about our work is factual and accurate. Misinterpretations of readers can be harmful not just for Tonic Rider, but the music industry more widely, as it can dissuade those experiencing poor mental health from engaging with our programme and other vital services.


Going forward, we ask anyone who writes about Tonic Music for Mental Health - researchers and journalists included - to contact us for more full and accurate information when reporting about our work.

Team Tonic


bottom of page