EXCLUSIVE: We Talk To Matt Thomas About Charity Music Support’s You Are Not Alone Campaign

Music Support is a specialist mental health charity for people within the UK music industry. They are founded and run by people within the industry and this month they launch their You Are Not Alone campaign. The campaign will be part of World Mental Health Day which takes place on October 10th.

The aim of the campaign is to spread a very simple yet powerful message to everyone in the music industry that You Are Not Alone. The 24/7 music support line is also open to anybody in the UK music industry who may be struggling with addictions and or mental health issues and are in need of support. Music Support are also inviting donations from people withing the British music scene and other supporters to help maintain their 24/7 telephone helpline, and other services on offer.

Here we speak exclusively to the co-founder of Music Support, Matt Thomas to find out more about the You Are Not Alone campaign and the work of Music Support;

Can you talk us through a little of what Music Support is all about?
Music Support was founded by a group of people from various areas of the UK music industry, all in some kind of personal recovery from addiction / emotional or mental health issues. While acknowledging that of course addiction and mental health issues affect all areas of society, all industries and all lines of work, we believed we could be of help to individuals in the UK music industry through our own experiences of it, and through our connections with professionals in the field of addiction and mental health. That Music Support was founded and run by people from the within the industry, for the industry, was, and is, at the core of our being. Because we also have access to a large network of volunteers and professionals in the addiction and mental health treatment industry, we bring a unique mixture of personal experience and appropriate professional, clinical help. We’ve provided help in many ways, from simply listening to, hearing and understanding our callers, to directing them to self help groups, clinical assessments, therapists or psychiatrists, to dealing with emergencies such as immediate admission to detox and treatment centres. We put on “Safe Tents” backstage at 11 major UK festivals this summer, where all festival staff and performers could come for some time out, a quiet chat, and even get referred to clinical assessment and treatment. We’ve provided large scale group and one on one therapy after traumatic incidents, and more recently we’ve been creating very bespoke treatment pathways to complex situations. It’s hard to believe how much has happened in just 18 months. We knew there was a need but we didn’t know this would happen so quickly. The entire industry has been so receptive and supportive. We’re gobsmacked. We’ve had to grow very quickly to keep up with demand.

Do you think music has the power to heal people?
Personally? Yes absolutely 100%. Undeniably so. I am a massive fan of Nordoff Robbins and Music Therapy in general.

What do you think it is about music that brings people together?
Music in my opinion is tribal and transcendental. It generates a sense of belonging and a connection, whatever age, background or genre of music. It gives people something in common, something to believe in and enjoy together. It’s so powerful. 

Unfortunately there still seems to be a stigma surrounding mental health, how do you feel we can break the barriers together?
Running this article is helping to break barriers. Donations help us break barriers. Shining the light on the issues breaks barriers. People talking out about their personal experiences breaks barriers. It’s been happening slowly – and now it’s speeding up. Pretty much every day there’s something in the media. The Royals and a lot of media figures and celebrities opening up really helps – it’s equally significant when people who aren’t famous or celebrities open up, and share their experiences. Being able to identify and relate with someone is crucial. Making that personal connection with someone can make a massive difference to them starting on the journey of getting well. Knowing that you’re not alone. `Music Support is hoping to show that there are plenty of people in our industry who have suffered – and that recovery is possible. 

How can anyone in need reach out to Music Support for help?
We have a 24/7 helpline 0800 030 6789 and a contact form on the website musicsupport.org. We aim to get back to people within 24 hours but it’s usually only 1 or 2 hours. We are often contacted directly via word of mouth. Someone who knows someone. 

How can people get involved in the organisation?
Contact Nicola.s@musicsupport.org

BPI Spokesperson Gennaro Castaldo also adds: “Through the music industry’s charitable arm, The BRIT Trust, money raised from the BRIT Awards and other events (over £18 million to date) has been distributed to charities that promote education (most notably The BRIT School) and well-being through music to underline the value of music. I’m delighted to say that when we became aware of the work of Music Support, a grant was made to them through the BRIT Trust as a contribution to help fund their day to day needs and to help fund their summer festivals Safe Tents initiative. We are also doing our best to help raise awareness of the charity and its work across the music industry. There is much more to do, but our aim is to continue to do more to promote good mental health across our industry – in particular by focusing on education and prevention. So, for example, we are exploring the possibility of Music Support workshops at the BRIT School – so that emerging creative talent can be educated about the risks of addictions and mental health at an early age and can hopefully learn how better to cope with, for example, any performance-related anxieties later in their careers, or to know where to turn to if they ever begin to struggle with such pressures”.  

You can follow Music Support on Twitter @Musicsupport_uk for even more help and information!

World Mental Health day takes place on October 10th. If you are suffering in any way please speak out; You Are Not Alone!  

Written by Laura Klonowski

Qualified music journalist! Writing single/album/live reviews, feature articles, interviews, and news pieces.
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