Mental Health Awareness Week – Mind: Paul Farmer, Chief Executive

To mark Mental Health Awareness Week 14-20th May, we are running a series of blogs focusing on the role of music in mental health from some of the initiatives we work closely with including the BRIT School, Nordoff Robbins, Music Support, Key4Life, Help Musicians & more.

Today we are featuring a blog from Chief Executive of Mind, Paul Farmer.


As this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week comes to a close it’s a chance to reflect on the huge number of people and organisations that have been actively engaging in conversations about mental health. Whether it’s online, in the workplace, in schools or in the home, more people than ever before are showing their support for an issue that affects one in four of us.


The music industry in particular has this year embraced mental health. Some of the activities that caught my eye this week included Sony Music’s commitment to offer staff mental wellbeing days. A welcome move that should help to encourage a better work life balance.


Another was the Mental Health Minute, which for the first time in history saw all radio stations across the UK broadcast the same content, a one-minute message about mental health supported by everyone from the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry to Dame Judi Dench and Lady Gaga.


But the most exciting development for Mind is today’s news that the BRIT Awards with Mastercard will be supporting us to pilot some groundbreaking work in secondary schools. This funding will help Mind to trial some innovative ways of supporting the mental health and wellbeing of thousands of pupils, teachers, parents and everyone involved in school life.


One in ten young people has a diagnosable mental health problem – that’s around three in every class of 30 pupils. However, many children and young people don’t seek help and sometimes when they do, they can be turned away. The scale and urgency of this complex situation can’t be addressed in isolation, and can’t solely be met by the NHS. It needs all of us to work together on a solution.


Our network of local Minds have years of experience of working in secondary schools – supporting children and young people to reduce levels of anxiety and depression, to boost their confidence, and increase awareness of mental health. They will be at the forefront of delivering this pilot scheme.


Mind’s aim is to help young people to cope more easily with the challenges of everyday life, help them to manage stress, and to build supportive relationships with their peers. We know too that teachers and parents are eager to learn about mental health, to be armed with advice and information and to feel more confident about having important conversations. By working with everyone in the school community we can make a real difference.


Beyond the school gates, Mind is also keen to work in partnership with the BRITs to promote the importance of mental health and wellbeing right across the music industry and the performing arts world. The music business is a notoriously challenging work environment. Working long or irregular hours, long periods of separation from family, dealing with the unstable nature of the industry and living life in the public eye can all lead to stress, depression and anxiety. A survey by Help Musicians UK found that 67 per cent of musicians had experienced depression or other psychological problems.


As the music industry starts to prioritise mental health this is the beginning of an important journey that could have an impact right across society. With so much momentum, let’s hope that next year’s Mental Health Awareness Week will be even more impactful and wide reaching than this one.