The SIMS Foundation provides mental health and substance use recovery services and supports for musicians, music industry professionals, and their dependent family members. Through education, community partnerships, and accessible managed care, SIMS seeks to destigmatize and reduce mental health and substance use issues, while supporting and enhancing the wellbeing of the music community at large.
Music impacts and inspires nearly everyone, but the people who work in the music industry often face unique and difficult challenges. Musicians and music professionals are at higher risk for mental illness and substance abuse, working under the stress of an unstable income, a skyrocketing cost of living, erratic tour schedules, distance from family and support, and constant proximity to drugs and alcohol.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in five Americans experiences a mental health condition each year. That’s why SIMS Foundation ensures that members of our music community have access to a full array of mental health and substance use recovery treatments, delivered with no barriers and at low or no cost.
To succeed in our work, we have built a community of health care providers, volunteers, local business leaders, music industry professionals, and music fans to amplify our efforts. Together, we provide vital services so that our music family can thrive.
We were founded in 1995 by community members mourning the loss of beloved musician Sims Ellison. Since then, SIMS Foundation has been passionately serving musicians, music industry professionals, and their dependent family members, ensuring that they have access to affordable, personalized mental health care from providers who understand them.
Sims Ellison was a prodigious songwriter and bassist for the band Pariah, one of Austin’s most popular hard rock bands in the early 90s. He was loved throughout the Austin music community because of his big heart, laid-back nature and outgoing personality. Sims was known for wearing funky hats and lederhosen while performing. After receiving positive reviews for their two self-produced EPs, Pariah and Rattle Your Skull, Pariah gained a following of nearly 25,000 fans. In 1992 the band self-produced their first full-length record, Make Believe, which they released on their label Sick Kid Productions. In 1993 their second record, To Mock a Killingbird, was released by Geffen Records.
In 1995, Sims lost his battle with depression, and the Austin music community was gripped with shock and sadness. Born out of tragedy to help thousands, SIMS Foundation was founded by Sims’ grieving father Don Ellison, Austin Rehearsal Complex (ARC) co-owners Don Harvey & Wayne Nagel, recording artist Alejandro Escovedo and attorney Walter Taylor. Together, they galvanized Austin’s close-knit music community to create a unique organization offering mental health services to local musicians. SIMS Foundation continues to provide lifesaving services to those in the music community and their families when they need them most.
Listen to Pariah on Spotify and learn more about the band on Facebook.
Photo credit: Todd V. Wolfson
SIMS is not a 24-Hour crisis line. If you are in crisis, please call 512-472-HELP or 911.