The Association for Electronic Music is putting a sharp focus on mental health in a new guide that offers resources to musicians struggling with depression, stress, and substance abuse.
One of the most high-profile stories to come out of the electronic music world in the past decade was the 2018 death by suicide of the Swedish DJ Avicii, a 28-year-old superstar who struggled with touring-related depression and mental health issues in the final years of his life. Earlier this year, the late musician’s family launched a foundation in his given name, Tim Bergling, dedicated to mental health causes.
Problems occur when your self-worth is tied solely to your job role. Keep in mind that you are much more than your job.
Now the Association for Electronic Music (AFEM) has created a guide for others in the industry to help them maintain their mental health.
“For many working to build their career, their passion for the work outweighs its high demands, which can include unsociable hours, low pay, and financial precarity,” the group states in the guide [PDF]. “Depending on the stage of their career, many others may also encounter a relentless work schedule combined with the isolation that comes from being away from home, friends, and family for extended periods whilst touring on the road.”
Coproduced with the Music Managers Forum, Music Support, and Help Musicians UK, the guide addresses issues that touring musicians might face with stress management, impostor syndrome, and the potential for substance abuse.
“The music industry is unique in that it can provide a one-stop shop for your work environment, social life, community, entertainment, and your identity,” the guide states in a section titled “Helping Yourself.” “It can involve over-identification with your job role, poor boundaries, and an imbalance between work and personal life. Problems occur when your self-worth is tied solely to your job role. Keep in mind that you are much more than your job.”
The guide comes during a period of growing awareness of mental health issues among electronic musicians, including some of the industry’s biggest names. Pete Tong, the legendary BBC radio host who has been active as a DJ for more than 40 years, addressed the subject during a presentation at the 2018 International Music Summit in which Tong honored Avicii.
“In my 40 years of being around this world, I can’t think of a single person who has achieved success who hasn’t paid a personal price via health, relationships, divorce, broken homes, addiction, depression, and anxiety,” he said, according to MusicRadar.
The new AFEM guide is one of many recent mental health initiatives in the field. Earlier this year, for example, the association introduced mental health first-aid training for electronic musicians with the support of the collective Eclectic Toolbox.