"The more we talk about what’s going on in our heads, the less weird it becomes, and then we can all develop the language together." - Zac Crouse
As part of its 30th anniversary in Halifax, the East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference is shining a spotlight on mental health and wellness. During the five-day event, ECMA offers a Health & Wellness Centre, workshops on mental wellness support strategies, and featured talks that speak to living with mental illness as a musician.
"Addressing the proliferation of mental illness in our music industry is long overdue," says Andy McLean, ECMA Executive Director. "It's important for us to not only talk about mental health issues in our industry but also to provide support and encourage our artists to participate in the Health & Wellness Centre at this year's ECMAs."
Curated by Moksha Yoga Halifax, the Health & Wellness Centre offers an on-site facility during the festival where artists, delegates, staff, volunteers, and sponsors can participate in yoga classes and guided meditation sessions, make appointments with a Registered Massage Therapist or licensed Acupuncturist, and take advantage of "Ask A Yoga Teacher" sessions. Beginning Wednesday, April 25, those interested can sign up in advance for sessions HERE.
Designed to be a quiet space in the midst of a notably hectic and stressful time, the Centre also offers the chance for attendees to learn about supports available to them. Two-way learning is an integral part of the Health & Wellness Centre as well.
Throughout the week, the Mental Wellness Support Strategies workshop will both provide volunteers and staff practical skills with which to identify a mental health crisis on the ground, and also to collect information on the scope of mental illness in the East Coast music industry through a survey (available HERE).
"The survey we’re doing will ask some questions like, do you have safe and secure housing. We’re asking some statistical data, like income, as well to see if that correlates," clinical therapist Errin Williams (who will be leading the workshop) tells The Chronicle-Herald. "Just starting to take a look at some areas where we might need to put more research or attention. At least then we have the data, if we need to look for funding or help, we have the beginning numbers to go ahead and ask for more supports for people in this industry."
A recent study conducted by Musicians UK revealed that 60 per cent of musicians have struggled with their mental health, compared to 25 per cent overall in Britain.
Outside of the Health & Wellness Centre, ECMA 2018 also hosts guest speaker and musician Zac Crouse, who delivers a talk called Mental Illness: It’s Time To Stop Being Weird About It!. Taking place on Friday, May 4 at 2:30pm in Sable B at the Halifax Marriott Harbourfront Hotel, Crouse’s address aims to break social stigmas about mental health and also offer "simple, supportive tools" that can help musicians and industry professionals. This session is open to non-ECMA delegates in exchange for a donation made to the Unison Benevolent Fund - a non-profit, registered charity that provides counseling and emergency relief services to the Canadian music community.
Rounding out the week, the ECMA Cup - a charity hockey game that features East Coast artists, industry professionals, and ex-NHL players - also contributes to the conversation. Taking place on Sunday, May 6 at 3:00pm at the Dartmouth 4 Pad Ice surface, all proceeds from the game will also be donated to the Unison Benevolent Fund.
To learn more about the health and wellness initiatives happening during ECMA 2018, read this feature published by The Chronicle-Herald.
The 2018 East Coast Music Awards: Festival & Conference takes place from May 2-6, 2018 in Halifax, NS.
The East Coast Music Association (ECMA) is a regional collaboration of people in the music industry of Atlantic Canada that fosters, develops and celebrates East Coast music and its artists locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. The ECMA annually produces the ECMAs, one of the top music industry events in Canada, which includes Awards, a Festival, an Industry Conference and the International Export Buyers Program. ECMA and its programs are generously funded by the Government of Canada through the International Business Development Agreement (represented by Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, and Industry Canada), the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund), the four provincial governments in Atlantic Canada, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and MUSICACTION. ECMA recognizes the support of the province of Nova Scotia, the Halifax Regional Municipality, and Platinum Partners The Chronicle Herald, Newcap Radio, and TD Bank Group.
This project is funded in part by FACTOR, the Government of Canada and Canada’s private radio broadcasters.
This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada and the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018.