Is the music industry doing enough to address its mental illness crisis? (SPOILER: No.)

The suicides and needless deaths keep coming. Just last week, Huntress lead singer Jill Janus took her own life after battling with mental illness, adding her name to a list that includes Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Scott Hutchison, Avicii, Kurt Cobain, Michael Hutchence, Ian Curtis, Elliott Smith, Butch Trucks, Brad Delp, Keith Emerson, Mark Linkhaus, Ronnie Montrose–do I have to go on? (The roll call continues here.)

What’s being done within the industry to help people at risk? Very little, actually. Music Business Worldwide has this column on the subject.

That’s right. I am calling it a mental health crisis, because that’s what it fucking is.

There’s no real need, from where I am sitting right now, to ‘sell’ the importance of addressing the ever-presence of mental illnesses and lacklustre well-being in our music industry.

The fact of the matter – if you have a heart, that is – is that people are dying. People will continue to die if we do not deal with this sooner. And more of them, more frequently than ever before.

However, I recognise that we live in a country, indeed a world, that finds it perfectly acceptable to walk past the homeless, impoverished and (more often than not) the mentally ill in the streets whilst they are actively asking for their help, ignore them, and somehow still sleep at night. (Honestly, if you are one of those people, good for you. I really mean that. I just can’t fucking do it, despite trying.)

So when it comes to a vehicle that was largely born out of selling a particular image of the perfection of human creativity – ie. the music business – you’ll have to forgive me for assuming that many people, including those we all deal with on a regular professional basis, need a degree of poking and prodding on the subject in the headline above.

In music, mental health – and indeed the issues and ailments surrounding it – is fashionable. It is a hot topic. A buzz phrase.

Keep reading. It’s important.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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