Help Musicians UK has published the results of its health and wellbeing survey, carried out earlier this year and surveying 552 musicians, 59% of whom worked in the classical sector.
As publicity around the issue increases prior to the broadcast of Channel 4’s Addicts Symphony on 27 August, performance anxiety was identified by 66% of respondents as a problem they had experienced either frequently or sometimes in their careers.
However, drug or substance abuse had never been a problem for 75% of respondents, and only 8 of 552 respondents (1.4%) said they found this a frequent problem.
More prosaic but much more prevalent, ‘Money problems’ had affected 73% of respondents, 35% of them frequently; and 69% had sometimes or frequently suffered from work insecurity.
Close to 60% said they had suffered from ‘depression or other psychological issues’, 17% frequently. This compares to studies which found that 23% of people in England had at least one psychological disorder, including 2.6% with depression, 4.7% with anxiety, and 9.7% with mixed anxiety and depression.
Relationship problems had been experienced by 55% of respondents, and 57% had felt lonely as a professional musician. Despite this, 60% of respondents had never had any difficulties with childcare, which was frequently problematic for around 10% of respondents.
Physical injuries were also common, with 48% reporting a repetitive strain injury at some point in their career and 47% reporting hearing problems.
When asked ‘Did you seek help’, only 48% had gone to a professional, 29% went to friends or family, and 13% ‘didn’t want or need help from others’. Some didn’t know where to go (8%).
One respondent said: ‘I feel guilty asking for help with something I should be able to deal with given the issues in question are part and parcel of the career path I’ve chosen.’
The results also showed higher satisfaction rates ‒ and much lower dissatisfaction rates ‒ for private medical treatment over the NHS. ‘This suggests that the NHS may not be well equipped to deal with performance related health problems, although this and the reasons musicians resort to private health care needs more detailed research,’ said the report.