Appearing as a guest speaker at the annual Performing Arts Medicine Association symposium in Orange County, California – English producer and composer James Blake revealed his experiences with mental illness, and the strain that immersion in the arts can place on artists mental health and the stigma surrounding the subject as a whole. Opening up in vulnerability, strength and truth during the panel known as “You Got This: Managing The Suicide Crisis in the Arts Population”, Blake opened up about his experience regarding touring and life on the road from a young age, and how the lifestyle as a constantly touring musician played a very serious role affecting both his mental health as well as his physical health. Struggling with suicidal thoughts as a result, Blake explained inability to connect with others on the road as the connections are fleeting and one is unable to truly open up about the difficulties one is struggling with. Coping with the difficulties of depression affected his physical health and diet as well, which furthered the spiral into difficult and dark places.
Blake explained the importance of setting boundaries – of saying goodbye to toxic people who are enabling extremely unhealthy behavior: cutting ties with those that encourage self-destruction. The importance of saying “NO” – and for Blake this meant saying no to constant touring, but this applies to all. Finding relief and support in EMDR therapy – Blake has spoken out about the importance of conversations about mental health, how we need to break the stigmas and make sure there is support for all those who are struggling – and with so many high profile artists turning to dangerous coping mechanisms to cope, which have broken them apart – and with the increase of these artists taking their own lives: he explained that he has opened up, as at this point being open about mental health has reached a crucial point more than ever, we need to break the stigma – this is a conversation we need to have and we need to have it now.
To those who are struggling, help and support is always available to you: You are not and never will be alone.
Below are resources in which you can always reach out for help:
There are many helplines available everywhere, yet here is a comprehensive UK listing:
999 and 112 are the national emergency numbers in the UK.
111, Option 2 is the National Health Services first response service for mental health crises and support.
Samaritans Helpline: 116 123 or Samaritans.org
Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-8255 or SuicidePreventionLife.org
CALM: originally launched as a campaign aimed at bringing down the male suicide rate: 0800 58 58 58 or webchat at thecalmzone.net/help/gethelp/ – available everyday from 5pm to midnight.
Or, click here for a list of helplines in your country.
Remember, reaching out and asking for help is not and never will be a sign of weakness. There are communities of people who will always stand with you and support you if you are struggling and in need of help regarding mental health. The stigma must be broken. You will never be alone in your journey, even if it may feel like it. Don’t be afraid to reach out, things can and will get better!