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The Nightlife
Ain’t No Good Life:

Musician Work Stress Impacts Mental Health

By Dr. Lloyd Berg

Musicians have significantly higher rates of depression and suicide than the general population.

Many attribute this to the often-repeated myth of the tortured artist, which assumes musicians are assisted in their creativity by despair and pain and embrace emotional suffering as a prerequisite to musical inspiration. What most people do not appreciate is that musicians struggle with multiple work stressors, including unpredictable work opportunities, low wages and holding multiple jobs to support their music careers.

SIMS Foundation, in collaboration with Lloyd Berg, Ph.D., a faculty researcher with Dell Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry, recently teamed up to investigate the impact of musician work and financial stress on mental health.

This study, presented at the 2018 Performing Arts Medicine Association International Symposium, is the first to identify occupational and financial stress as independent risk factors for depression and anxiety in musicians.

These findings have important implications for the mental health of musicians.

In our previous research, we showed that musicians receiving mental health services through the SIMS Foundation report strong satisfaction and perceive great benefit from counseling, psychiatric medication management and addiction recovery services that are accessible, affordable, and delivered by professionals familiar with their concerns.

Mental health professionals knowledgeable about musician occupational stressors can tailor interventions to increase resiliency with their musician clients. Shifting the cultural mindset from myth to evidence-based treatment planning can greatly benefit our musician community.

We are planning to conduct further research on the social determinants of musician mental health.

Full Report

The SIMS Foundation is a national model for mental health treatment for musicians and music industry professionals.

Researchers

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Lloyd Berg, PhD

Lloyd Berg is a board certified clinical health psychologist with the Seton Mind Institute and assistant professor of psychiatry at The University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School. His specialties include hospital-based clinical practice and researching social determinants of musician mental health in the Live Music Capital of the World. Dr. Berg is the principal investigator for this musician stress research.

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Benjamin King, MPH

Ben King is a PhD candidate in Epidemiology at the UT Houston School of Public Health and a Research Scientist in the Department of Neurology at UT Dell Medical School. In the past, he has worked in several behavioral health delivery systems, including inpatient and residential treatment programs for youth and adults. He consults with Dr. Berg and the SIMS Foundation through his role as President of Methods and Results LLC, a research and evaluation consulting service.

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