Growing concerns around mental illness are not limited to one profession, age group or gender. As something that affects nearly every walk of life, campaigns like R U OK? are increasingly important in encouraging people to speak out about mental health. The community organisation Music Feedback uses music as a means to bring the discussion out into the open, and has been running a series of videos called Let’s Talk About It.
Discussing mental health with musicians, Australian artists Mathas, Illy and Make Them Suffer have all featured in the series. Universally noting some experience with mental illness, whether personal or by association, the videos make the important point that anyone suffering is not alone. Which is often one of the hardest perceptions to battle around mental health, and also one of the best tools to help recovery.
With plenty of evidence to back up the connection between music and mental health, the series highlights how the expressive nature of playing or listening to music can be therapeutic. Mathas encourages any sort of creativity as a form of expression, attributing his happiness to his love of poetry: “Create your own outlets and call it art… the advice I would give is find something like I found, that made me happy”.
Illy went on to talk about how simply “bottling up” bad feelings has never done him any favours, and how just giving a problem time by sleeping on it can take the edge off it. Another interesting point from Mathas is how creativity can throw you into the path of criticism, and help you learn to deal with it and develop self belief.
Make Them Suffer’s Sean Harmanis speaks honestly about his own experiences with depression, with the band discussing how setting achievable goals can motivate someone to slowly get their life back on track. To hear anyone relate their own struggles with mental illness goes a long way to illustrate that people are not alone, and even just hearing that someone else has experienced the same thing can ease the awful fear that the situation is inescapable. Listening to these artists talk about friends and family who have suffered from mental illness, it highlights the kind of understanding and support that a trusted friend can provide.
Props to Music Feedback and these musicians for keeping the discussion open, and also for helping show how even those who haven’t personally suffered care about mental health. And could be there for whoever needs them. Other videos in the series can be viewed via Music Feedback, along with a whole range of information on mental health. The videos also present contact details for Beyond Blue, a charity offering help and support around mental illness in Australia, as well the number for crisis support organisation Lifeline.