Saturday, 4 February 2017

Mental troubles affect us all

This week, there was a call for the Welsh government to provide more support for people in rural Wales whose mental health is suffering. It has been known for some time that rural isolation exacerbated by falling incomes, especially for those with family responsibilities, leads to a high suicide rate. The ready availability of lethal means makes the rate second only to that of health professionals in this country. It does not help that the average townie sees only the benefits of country living and none of the difficulties.

One might assume that straight musicians, being paid for doing something they enjoy, would be immune to similar pressures. However, the feeling hangs over many players that they are only as good as their next performance, that they are like horses who having won a race are expected to go out and win again the next day.

Inspired by a survey by, Radio 3's Music Matters today devoted the latter part of the programme to interviews with those feeling the pressure (including worryingly young people on the brink of entering musical careers), the professionals who are too seldom called in to help and most poignantly the colleagues of a valued member of a leading group who had taken his own life as a result of a depressive illness.

In both cases, the perceived stigma of seeking help is an obstacle to treatment. Nor are there enough therapists or doctors available. Government should act both in providing resources and in changing perceptions.

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