Last month saw the long-awaited launch of a free 24/7 mental wellbeing programme for Ireland’s musicians, songwriters, artist managers and event production crew – spanning the full length and breadth of the island – and enabling support for estimated 20,000 people in the process.
It’s the first phase of what will hopefully in time – if proven successful and the necessary financial supports provided – become a service rolled out to the entirety of Ireland’s globally renowned creative communities including (but not limited to) theatre, film and visual artists. The launch of the service, due initially in late summer this year, was brought forward in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic that’s had such a devastating impact across the music sector. Live work has been decimated, and as such income for many independent artists and their crews have stopped without notice – alongside clarity as to what the future holds for many careers in the process.
The service, crucially free to those who use it, covers access to a range of wellbeing services including a 24/7 dedicated phone line, in-person / telephone / video counselling, and an extensive web portal and app – enabling live chat function to ensure that the service is accessible from every region of the country. In addition to mental health support, the service can be utilised as a practical day-to-day resource – including legal assistance, financial & career guidance, consumer advice, life coaching, support for non-Irish nationals and their families, and mediation towards conflict resolution. As an all-inclusive service, it aims to be both preventative and reactive in its approach to supporting users.
It’s the brainchild of David Reid, co-founder & organiser of the RTÉ Choice Music Prize, and also involved with First Fortnight – a national charity that has been challenging mental health prejudice through arts and cultural action since 2010. Last year First Fortnight conducted a comprehensive survey amongst the music & creative community in relation to mental health and the responses were stark. 91% of respondents said that they had experienced anxiety, depression, or mental ill-health. 95% agreed there was a need for a dedicated mental wellbeing support programme for members of the Irish Music & Creative Community. Further proof, if necessary, of the importance of the service for communities we have historically held in such high regard.
Artists have come on board immediately, most recently with high-profile support from Kodaline – who highlighted MCM as their chosen charity as part of their recent Other Voices #Courage2020 live streamed performance – alongside notable praise of the service from James Vincent McMorrow, Flynn,
Villagers, TRUE TIDES and All Tvinns – to name but a few. Widespread heavyweight support has also been backed up by funding from notable Irish Music Industry bodies – including from IMRO (Irish Music Rights Organisation), Universal Music Ireland, RAAP (Recorded Artists, Actors & Performers), The BAI (Broadcasting Authority of Ireland), and IRMA (Irish Recorded Music Association) to ensure its survival.
The service ultimately aims to provide support for those who need it most – and become a permanent fixture in the support-system for the creative community that Ireland so desperately deserves.