News broke last Thursday (20 July) that Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington had died of a suspected suicide aged 41, after a long and well-documented struggle with mental illness. In times like this, when someone who has meant so much to so many is lost, it feels right to do something practical. This is why Help Musicians UK, the UK's longest running and largest independent music charity, has launched Music Minds Matter, a campaign to start a 24/7 music industry-specific mental health helpline.
With a £100,000 starting investment from Help Musicians UK, which they have called on the music industry and philanthropists to match pound for pound, the charity has also launched a crowdfunding platform here. It's hoped that the helpline and service will be ready to launch in late 2017, with "listening, advice and signposting" combined "with clinical, medical, therapeutic and welfare support for those who need it." There are also hopes to roll the service out past the UK, to the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Back in May, we spoke with music industry helpline Music Support, which provides a listening service for people in the music industry struggling with mental illness. Music Minds Matter would seek to offer an even more comprehensive service, involving signposting towards treatment, advice, and financial support for those in need. More mental health services in music, of course, can only be a good thing, particularly in light of such tragic events, to lessen the stigma and make things even slightly easier in a high-pressure industry.
The Music Minds Matter campaign has already received industry support, particularly from those who knew and worked with Chester Bennington. Matthew Leone, bassist with Madina Lake who toured with Linkin Park said: "I spent many hours working alongside Chester and he was an incredibly passionate man. I'm sure that this investment and the Music Minds Matter campaign would have met with his approval. Likewise, having spoken to Linkin Park's management, I know that they are anxious to follow this campaign through to a successful conclusion. This unique service will revolutionise the way musicians and the music industry think about mental health."
If you're working in music and struggling with your mental health or substance use, you can call Music Support's 24-hour helpline on 0800 030 6789. If you or someone you know have been struggling with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, the Samaritans in the UK can be contacted seven days a week, at any time, on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
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