A new project backed by leading musicians including Rag’N’Bone Man, is aiming to tackle the crisis in men’s mental health in the music industry.
Gemma Jennison, Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at Birmingham City University, joined forces with creative director Sam Stirling, assistant psychologist Dave Jones, film-maker Jordan Grant, and software developer Mike Simmons to launch the new Man Down Programme.
The programme aims to help anyone who identifies as male to have honest and meaningful conversations about their mental well-being and experiences of distress and trauma, with research indicating a rise in suicide rates among those working in the creative industries.
Nearly 20 hip-hop artists have pledged their support for the programme, including Rag’N’Bone Man, who spoke of the need for the music industry to ‘acknowledge the pressure we face and be able to talk about this openly, honestly and without judgement’ and said he was ‘proud to be part of this programme… Gemma and the team will go on to make a meaningful change’.
There has been a significant increase in male suicide in the UK, with males aged under 45 making up three quarters of those who die by suicide. Tentative research suggests that males who work in music, media, culture or sports are more likely to struggle with low mood and fleeting thoughts of self-harm, and that there has been a 20 per cent increase in suicide in these industries.
Jennison, whose research focuses on depictions of mental health in film and how media can depict mental health more responsibly, explained: ‘The Man Down Programme was developed as a direct response to seeing people I love and care for attempt to take their own lives.
‘I felt driven to create a safe space and productive line of discussion to facilitate a better understanding of mental health risks and promote the right – and need – to talk openly about them among men.
‘As a mental health nurse, I’ve always been interested in human behaviour and the well-being of others. I’ve been on the front line witnessing the rising tide of mental health issues, both personal and systemic, occurring in our society.
‘I grew up in the hip hop scene, immersed in the hip hop culture since childhood, and now promoting hip hop events. Being a part of hip hop culture has given me an invaluable view of the way mental health affects men, specifically in the music industry, and that’s why we’ve set up Man Down.’
The organisation is keen to hear from anyone wishing to find out more or share their own experiences and people can get in touch via the Man Down Programme website.
Find out more about mental health nursing courses at Birmingham City University’s upcoming Open Day on Saturday 21st March.