Mental Health Soundcheck

Marquee that reads: This is just an intermission. we'll see you soon
By Kathryn Hummel
Posted by: Ace Piva

The sounds are loud, the lights are bright, and even in seemingly good times, unsupported mental health and bad lifestyle habits can start to take control of our lives. The tired trope of the tortured artist is often an excuse we use to hide behind our unhealthy behaviours and negative coping mechanisms, but eventually, its effects always catch up with us. As time progresses, mental health regresses and isolation becomes more common and more habitual. This concerning change in behaviour can often times become more obvious to everyone but ourselves.

For many musicians, it feels as if the world was hit with COVID-19 almost overnight. Artists from all around the world were forced to postpone or abandon tours and isolate. Physical distancing and staying at home was the right decision, however, isolation has left many musicians and road crew in limbo, and at a higher risk for a mental health crisis.

When we are forced to be alone, our emotions can plummet very quickly, and there are no sounds or bright lights to safeguard our mental and physical health. As self-isolation continues during these unprecedented times, it may be normal to experience feelings of increased anxiety, depression or anger.

Four feelings of isolation

1. Fear- not knowing what will happen during and after COVID-19, feeling vulnerable, feeling scared for self and family, uncertainty due to loss of income.

2. Restlessness/Boredom– used to entertaining, running out of things to do, realized you don’t have a lot of interests or lack of friends outside of music.

3. Anger– at COVID-19, lack of ability to do things, reflecting on the past, at housemates, or being alone, self-loathing and regrets.

4. Sadness– being alone, having to stop a project you were passionate about, being away from loved ones, regrets over past relationships, decisions or situations. 

10 ineffective coping strategies

1. Sleeping too much or too little

2. Boredom– Watching Netflix, or surfing the internet all day long

3. Unmotivated– Sitting at home waiting for the world to change

4. Poor Hygiene- Lack of showers, and brushing teeth, body odour smell

5. Poor Nutrition and Exercise– Eating poorly and becoming a couch potato/laying in bed

6. Cleaning too much or too little– Obsessive-Compulsive, Hoarding, lack of self-respect 

7. Mental health- Increased anxiety, depression, anger, or grief

8. Focusing on Negative things–  Watch news all day, nitpicking, doom and gloom attitude

9. Substance Abuse- Drinking alcohol excessively, smoking marijuana excessively, taking pills excessively (anything more than prescribed is too much!)

10. Behavioural Addictions– Shopping online, eating disorder (binge, bulimia, anorexia), gambling, sex, video games, internet, body modification, risky behaviour (skydiving, rock climbing, car racing, stupid stage antics)

We, in the music industry, understand that many of us have put our efforts into places that gave us no return on investment. We have spent time, money and energy on things that kept us stuck or left us behind. However, choosing to actively adopt healthy coping skills are integral to getting through tough times, and avoiding situations we may find ourselves in that are counterproductive to our physical and mental health and financial wellbeing.

10 coping strategies

1. Connect or reconnect with friends and family via phone, Facebook, zoom etc.

2. Get out get some fresh air- walking and outdoor exercise,

3. Home workout No Gym, No Equipment, No Problem Click here 

4. Get involved in your local online music community- Search for your local music groups. This is where you can network with musicians, promoters, and stage techs. This is where you can connect with a mentor or be one yourself. 

5. Order materials for activities or projects to do online- puzzles, journals, paint, craft paper


7. Consider getting a pet –pets are wonderful companions and can provide comfort and support during times of stress, ill-health or isolation

8. Use Apps for Mindfulness, Organization and Accountability 

9. Get support – If loneliness and social isolation are causing you distress, you should discuss your concerns with a family doctor or mental health counsellor who offer online consultations and supports.

10. Peer Support: is available at Over the Bridge:

Like any song, the song writer starts with one note or hook to build their vision, however before these songs meet the listener’s ears, it takes a team of musicians, studio engineers and producers to create the final product. Creating good habits and a positive attitude takes time, but over time it will become easier and your life will feel more manageable and fulfilling. Often it takes a team of friends, bandmates, crew, colleagues and most likely will require some online/virtual professional support and/or interventions to create the best support system to address our physical, mental, social and spiritual needs. These new daily habits create manageable and successful coping strategies that can be used at home or on the road. We can use this as an opportunity for all of us to self-reflect on our lives, our feelings, our goals and our environment and tune it all up so that we can create a beautiful melody called Life. 


In the Music Industry, we all have our roles when elevating an artist to the next level of their career. An artist’s job is to write, record and perform songs, a stage tech helps an artist on stage, and a booking agent gets the gigs.  Since 2017, Over The Bridge’s (NPO) gig has been to help Music Industry members access Mental Health, Addiction and Recovery support, through Community Events and Education Forums. 

About the Authors:

Ace Piva is the Co-founder / Executive Director of Over The Bridge 

Tammy Francoeur is the Co-Founder/Director of Habitude Addiction and Wellness Programs


Disclaimer – Please note that information from this site should never be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.


Follow us at @UnisonFund on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram to stay up to date on balancing a healthy lifestyle while working in music. 

Looking for additional help? Unison’s Counselling & Health Solutions connects Canadian music professionals with licensed counsellors offering nutrition and health guidance. Register for free and call 1-855-9UNISON to receive assistance.