A photo of METHOD's team around a table with Mental Health First Aider course workbooks during a training session.

Mental Health First Aid

Event organisers are conditioned to solve problems. It’s part and parcel for the job: you put together a plan and try to cover for every eventuality, and then you think on your feet to find solutions if problems arise at the eleventh hour.

Things get tricky, though, when you come up against an issue which can’t be solved in this way. Our industry has not been, historically, the most accommodating when it comes to mental health, and this could be the reason why. Mental health issues are not a box that can be ticked, and they can’t be fixed in a rushed conversation five minutes before gates open. Addressing them requires a different set of skills: tact, empathy and resilience.

The Method team recently completed a Mental Health First Aid training course with Music Support, which drove home this point for us. As with physical first aid, Mental Health First Aid provides knowledge and skills for supporting someone who is developing a mental health issue or in a mental health crisis before professional help can be obtained. The live music industry is no stranger to long shifts, late hours, and working weekends. As employers, it is important that we are ready to support our staff (and each other!), even if it means having sometimes difficult conversations.

The course helped us develop our empathetic skills, and gave us tools to have conversations about mental health without being patronising, dismissive, or judgmental. It also taught us how to be frank and talk about mental health directly, while still being sensitive to the other person’s experiences. Sometimes, politely skirting around a difficult topic might feel like the most tactful approach, but it can often not be helpful at all.

Our Mental Health First Aid trainer Norman helped foster a casual and friendly atmosphere where everyone felt they could be vulnerable and ask questions. It was one of the most engaging training sessions we’ve ever taken, and we can’t recommend the work Music Support does highly enough.

The world of live music and events is a high pressure one, and there will always be immovable deadlines that have to be met. But this should never come at the expense of the mental wellbeing of those who work within it. Our events should all have enough resilience built into them that if a key member of the team is experiencing a mental health crisis, the event doesn’t fall apart without them. Information should be documented carefully and spread across teams, so that critical knowledge is not just inside the mind of one person.

If you want to learn more about the work Music Support does, you can visit their website here or email learning@musicsupport.org



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