Blog: Wellbeing at Wigmore Hall

by Daisy Swift, Wigmore Hall’s Learning Director and Mental Health Champion

Wellbeing Blog 2Mental health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK, and a recent study led by Help Musicians UK suggested that musicians may be up to three times more likely to experience depression compared with the general public.

So it’s no surprise that wellbeing is a subject at the top of many agendas, and Wigmore Hall’s is no exception: We are committed to the physical and mental wellbeing of our staff, participants, audiences and artists, and we want Wigmore Hall to be an enjoyable, enriching place for all who come here, be it to work, perform, take part, or experience a concert.

Our Learning programme has long provided opportunities to connect people, improving their sense of wellbeing through music, and here’s just one recent example of this important work:

In November 2018 we led a project at Chelsea Community Hospital School, working with young people with complex emotional, behavioural and mental health problems. The teachers wanted the students to explore how random actsof kindness can affect their wellbeing, as part of a wider programme of work at the school. Students worked with musicians from Ignite and the school’s poet in residence, Philip Wells, to create music and poetry on this theme and they shared their work, which included instrumental music, spoken word and song, in a performance for friends and families.

Wellbeing Blog 1Through projects like this we see firsthand the positive impact music can have on the people with whom we work, and many of you will yourselves have witnessed the ways music can enhance wellbeing, both physical and mental. So why is it that musicians are experiencing depression at this worrying rate? Respondents in Help Musicians UK’s study reported reasons that include: poor working conditions, exhaustion, a lack of recognition, the physical impacts of a musical career, and issues related to being a woman in the industry, including sexist attitudes and sexual harassment.

At Wigmore Hall we work hard to combat these challenges, and to provide support for all our staff and artists. We already have a range of initiatives, resources and training in place, and this year we are taking part in Mind’s Workplace Wellbeing Index, which will help us to find out what we are doing well and where we could do more.

‘We want to remove the stigma that sadly still persists in parts of our society,’ John Gilhooly explains, ‘and promote an open culture at Wigmore Hall which supports positive mental health in the workplace.’

If you would like to find out more about supporting mental health in the workplace visit mentalhealthatwork.org.uk.

For advice, support and resources on mental health more generally visit mind.org.uk.

If you work in music and would like support with your mental health you can visit musicmindsmatter.org.uk.

This article was originally published in The Score magazine in Spring 2019. The magazine is curated exclusively for Friends of Wigmore Hall and is published 3 times a year. To find out more about Friends of Wigmore Hall please visit here