Mental Health Awareness Week – Music Support: Matt Thomas, Co-Founder & Trustee

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 Music Support’s Co-Found & Trustee, Matt Thomas.


Many many thanks to the BPI and BRIT Trust for their incredible donation, and for giving Music Support a voice in such a prestigious collective of bloggers.


We are deeply grateful for the welcome, enthusiasm and support we have received unilaterally from across the industry in the short 2 years we have been going. The BPI / BRIT Trust have been massive supporters from Day 1.


Music Support was created by people from the music industry, for the music industry.  Grateful for our own recovery from addiction and/or mental health issues, as experienced from within the industry, we wanted for those suffering to know that they are not alone and that help is always available.


We are dedicated to ensuring that all individuals working within the industry have access to support from peers and professionals when suffering from addiction, emotional or mental health concerns. We are also committed to facilitating awareness and prevention and helping to reduce stigma around these issues.


We provide a 24/7 support helpline, crisis management, well-being workshops and trainings, and Safe Tents at festivals. We also put on educational and informative events for the industry.


All our phone and Safe Tent volunteers have personal experience of the music industry and the issues that Music Support covers.They have been through our rigorous training designed and facilitated for Music Support by professionals trainers in this field, in consultation with The Helplines Partnership.


We have access to a large network of vetted professionals in all areas of the mental heath and addictions prevention and treatment world, and we have have a strong reciprocal relationship with MusiCares in the USA.


Our ‘Safe Tents’ are hosted backstage at music festivals across the country to address particular needs that can arise on tour and specifically in the festival environment.


The Safe Tents provide a safe space for artists or anyone working backstage to speak confidentially with a fully trained and qualified volunteer about anything they may be experiencing, or to seek advice about clinical signposting for themselves, their clients or friends.


The Safe Tents are also an alcohol and drug free environment where visitors can simply take a break from the mayhem for as long as they need.


In 2017, working with Festival Republic, Glastonbury and AEG, and crucially with the support of The BRIT Trust we arranged 11 Safe Tents at UK festivals. This year we will be hosting 15. We have also been invited to places as far afield as Norway, South Africa and Latvia. As I type this, Music Support have a Safe Tent in AIM House, at the Great Escape Festival, provided of course in association with AIM.


Music Support can respond rapidly to urgent situations or emergencies on an individual level or at a group level: Using our network of clinical professionals and institutions we have arranged group and individual trauma therapy on a large scale after major traumatic incidents, and we have provided rapid intervention including emergency psychiatric appointments and admission to CQC regulated detox and residential treatment centres.


Our  variety of workshops, presentations and trainings take place on site at the client’s premises, or at other suitable locations such as function/conference rooms. Areas explored are anxiety & depression, self-awareness and resilience, work/life balance and developing healthy boundaries, prevention and recovery from addiction, and the continuum of care necessary for long term recovery and emotional sobriety.


Along with our professional trainer, and/or presenters, all workshops include a talk from a person in recovery who has also worked, or is currently working, in the industry. We also provide more advanced, in-depth trainings looking at specialist areas. For example last week at the IRI Recovery Specialist Training, which included the MusiCares/Music Support module, an outstanding group of 14 individuals from the music industry eager to learn more about helping people with addiction and mental health gathered for 4 days (including both Saturday an Sunday) at the Royal Garden Hotel in London, for a training provided by 2 US experts at the very top of their professions.  Most of these spaces were provided as scholarships funded by kind donations from the industry, launched by Music Business Worldwide.


These individuals are probably now the best informed (non-therapeutic) people on these topics working in the music industry and will take their knowledge back to the heart of their communities.


It’s tragically Ironic that while the training was happening we lost another member of the music community – on the eve of Mental Health Awareness Week. Adding to the growing list of people in the spotlight that we’ve lost. A stark reminder of what the industry is facing. And just imagine if attention was given to all the people not in the spotlight that we lose every year, or that suffer breakdowns, crises, lose their livelihoods, their families, their dignity or sanity,  as a result of addiction and/or mental health issues.


(Disclaimer – we understand that all industries have their own unique pressures, the music industry is not alone. Look at this article about there restaurant and catering industry in North Carolina. It affects butcher, baker, candlestick maker and does not discriminate.


Music Support has always been about taking immediate action, in the moment. And with the continued help and support of the likes of the BPI / BRIT Trust will continue to be –  as long as you’ll have us.


And then some!


If you need help, or think someone you know needs help, please call the helpline on 0800 030 6789, or email It could be the most important thing you ever do.


For further information see