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‘We work in a pressured environment’: Music Support partners with industry organisations to train in Mental Health First Aid

Music Support began investing in Mental Health First Aid training in 2018, and the value of it in providing people with a basic understanding of mental health quickly became clear

Music Support, the peer-led music industry charity that provides confidential mental health and addiction services to the music industry, has partnered with 10 UK companies and organisations to train music industry professionals in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA).

Music Support began investing in Mental Health First Aid training in 2018, and the value of it in providing people with a basic understanding of mental health quickly became clear.

Music Support will collaborate with The Event Safety Shop (TESS), a live event production safety service; industry charities Help Musicians and The BRIT Trust – the charitable arm of BPI; PLASA, the Professional Lighting and Sound Association; The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF); Production Park, a community of live events businesses and studios; Backstage Academy, a higher education provider specialising in the live events industry; The Production Services Association (PSA) and its benevolent fund, Stage Hand; and Thrive: MentalWellbeing, a new, NHS-endorsed, clinically effective app designed to help people combat stress.

There will be various courses available including ‘First Aider’ (two-day course), ‘Champion’ (one-day course) and ‘Aware’ (four-hour course).   

Music Support’s Adult MHFA Two Day course qualifies the individual as a Mental Health First Aider and will give understanding of mental health and the factors that can affect wellbeing, the practical skills to spot the triggers and signs of mental health issues, and the confidence to step in, reassure and support a person in distress. 

MHFA England is the only organisation in England permitted to provide Mental Health First Aider Instructor Training, licensed by Mental Health First Aid International, the global community that has trained over three million people worldwide, and over 400,000 in England alone.

Music Support’s Matt Thomas, co-founder and chair of trustees, commented: “MHFA training is becoming a priority for businesses across many industries and sectors, both nationally and internationally. We’ve received a lot of support and encouragement from partners about the prospect of Music Support delivering training, and MHFA England is currently campaigning for the Government to put mental and physical health on an even footing. This is gaining traction from politicians and is likely to become an area of statutory responsibility for employers in the future. Now is the time for our industry to get in ahead of the curve.”

Help Musicians has discovered that the life of musicians can be precarious, therefore the charity aims to encourage positive change and sustain careers across the sector by promoting musicians’ wellbeing.

Claire Gevaux, Help Musicians director of programme said: “We have been working closely with the team at Music Support for the past year and it’s exciting to announce this new collaboration which will bring vital resources in the form of Mental Health First Aid training to the sector. We recognised the entrepreneurial approach of Music Support to build a network of Mental Health First Aiders as a step in the right direction towards supporting a safe working environment for musicians so that they thrive in their working lives.

“We’re delighted that our catalytic investment in this training programme has received such collective support from a diverse array of sector partners and that we’ve been able to offer our National Grants Programme funded organisations a more holistic package of support.”

Maggie Crowe OBE, BPI director of events and charities and BRIT Trust Trustee, commented: “Music Support is doing important work to help promote mental wellbeing in our industry, and The BRIT Trust is proud to be supporting this exciting initiative which will not only help to create better awareness and understanding of mental health in the workplace, but will also support the creative environment for future talent.”

Music Support’s partners represent a broad cross section of professionals, with backstage and event production crew being under unique pressures.

TESS Director, Simon James, stated: “With three decades working in live events, I have too many personal experiences witnessing people suffering with mental health issues without adequate support. We work in a pressured environment and we’re very proud to do what we can in assisting Music Support in bringing empathetic, professional help into the music industry.”

AIF CEO Paul Reed said: “Part of AIF’s remit is to provide its members with the resources and expertise they need to improve and maintain the safety and wellbeing of both staff and customers at their events. Mental health is obviously a vital part of that, and we’re pleased to be partnering with Music Support, alongside a number of other great music industry organisations, to give AIF promoters access to great training in this area.”

Thomas concluded: “Ultimately, we’d like this initiative to be an industry-wide adoption of good practice which will significantly improve mental health literacy and the industry’s capacity to prevent and respond.”