A mental illness is a diagnosable condition that affects a person’s thinking, emotions and behaviour. It can disrupt the capacity to engage in work, relationships and daily activities. Mental illness is often exacerbated by adverse life events.
Mental health is our emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. It influences how we think, how we perceive things, and our behaviour. It determines how we cope with stress, relationships and adverse life events.
We all have fluctuating mental health. Experiencing anxiety, low mood or higher stress levels as a response to our experience is part of being human.
External stressors, and vulnerability to that stress, will affect mental health.
The stress and pressures of working in the music industry can have a negative impact on mental health. People can become ill when their capacity to cope is outweighed by the level of stress experienced. The ability to deal with stress varies from person to person.
Types of Stress
Poor diet, chaotic lifestyle, excessive alcohol use, illness, pressure to keep working even when unwell.
Social isolation, poor living conditions, the competitive and high-pressure nature of the music industry.
Relationship problems, peer pressure.
Extreme Life Events
Divorce, bereavement, assault, accidents.
Chronic (long term stress)
Ongoing financial instability, substance misuse, being bullied or harassed.
Ability to cope is inherited.
Those with effective ways of dealing with problems manage stress better.
How we view ourselves and the world around us: positively or negatively.
The ability to develop strong relationships with others can provide support in a crisis.
Imagine you carry a bucket that slowly fills up when you experience different types of stress.
Without having ways to empty the bucket it will overflow. This is when stress can start affecting mental health.
What fills up your stress bucket?
These are the things that either protect us from poor mental health, or increase the chance of it happening.
The more protective factors we have in our lives, the less likely we are to develop problems. The more risk factors we have, the more likely it becomes.
Life stability (housing, finance, etc)
Life instability (housing, finance, etc)
Traumatic life experiences
Lack of support
Pressure to succeed
Impact of touring
Mental illness is a significant cause of disability.
The impact on someone’s ability to maintain healthy relationships, hold down jobs and care for themselves can be profound. When mentally ill, the impact of disability is comparable to that caused by physical illnesses. Additional suffering is caused by stigma from those with little understanding of mental health problems. The ridicule, rejection and discrimination people face adds further distress to existing problems. However, most periods of mental ill health are relatively brief, while people with serious illness and long-term problems are still able manage their illness and live meaningful lives.
There are many types of treatment and support available for both mental health issues and mental illness. It’s important to discuss with a professional what may work best for you.
Medication can be prescribed by a GP or a psychiatrist. Psychological therapies (provided by counsellors and therapists) can help someone change the way they think or behave. Complementary therapies and lifestyle changes can also contribute to wellness. Support groups provide the opportunity to give and receive support from others with shared experiences.
Tonic’s YouTube channel
Here you will find a range of helpful videos with techniques such as Dropping Anchor, Square Breathing, Mindfulness and more.
What helps you let it out?
The more behaviours we have to empty the bucket the better. These behaviours can be used strategically to keep our stress levels in check, so it’s a good idea to build as many as possible into your daily living. They should be viewed as essential to managing your mental health, not as self-indulgent distractions from more ‘important’ things.
There are many types of mental illness. Check out Tonic’s other zines for more information.
Long-lasting low mood disorder affecting the ability to do everyday things, feel pleasure or take interest in activities.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
A long-term condition characterised by anxiety about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than one specific event.
An anxiety disorder characterised by regular sudden attacks of panic or fear, including for no apparent reason.
A mood disorder characterised by extreme highs and lows, with periods of wellness in between.
Seeing, hearing or believing things that others do not, and believing the experiences are real.
Symptoms include visual hallucinations, hearing voices, delusions, paranoia and distorted thinking.
Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD)
Symptoms include emotional instability, upsetting thoughts and impulsive behaviours. It also affects the way someone thinks and feels about themselves. Also known as Borderline Personality Disorder.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
An anxiety disorder caused by serious, traumatic or frightening experiences, such as an assault, accident or natural disaster.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Recurring distressing thoughts and repetitive behaviours beyond someone’s control.
Many people working in the music industry experience mental health issues. They can be brought on by the highs and the lows, the touring, the late nights, and the lifestyle. The industry can be volatile and competitive, with no financial security. This leaves music industry professionals vulnerable to developing mental health issues.
Tonic Rider addresses this by providing music industry-specific mental health support.