By Staff Reporter
The past 18 months or so have been tough on people’s mental health, due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has resulted in loss of lives and livelihoods.
Artists who survive on hand to mouth and are breadwinners have not been spared by the pandemic’s negative impacts.
Mashonaland West National Arts Council (NACZ) today held a virtual discussion on mental health and depression with artists in the province, putting into consideration that not everyone wants to go for therapy, and some cannot relate to what’s happening to them, but just feel the change in them.
Programmes Officer, Lerato Ndlovu said issues of mental health are real and a lot of artists are struggling with them but cannot tell the world due to fear of stigmatisation.
“Almost every artist one way or the other has struggled with anxiety, depression, mental health but fail to express it with fear of being labelled and to receive hate speech and pressure from their followers.
“Some artists who survived on what they produced were affected by the pandemic, to an extent that they do not know if they will be able to keep up with their work once everything goes back to normal,” she said.
“As a Province we saw it worthy to have such a discussion with the artists and trained Counsellors as a way of encouraging them and also to help them have confidence in their work despite being affected by the pandemic”.
Ledwina Chikwaiwa, a local counsellor said, a lot of people are suffering in silence.
“A lot of people are suffering silently because of stigma surrounding mental health, opening up to situations is not an easy task for some as such they suffer alone to a point that they cannot control it.
“If one fails to control himself, he can have different ailments surrounding him. It is of great worry considering that the pandemic is aiding in a rise of the mental health cases, more should be done as a way of controlling emotions within people,” she said.
Throughout history, artists have been plagued with mental health issues. One study shows that about 73 percent of musicians worldwide report symptoms of mental illness, and among those with mental illness, 50 percent will battle addiction over the course of their lives.
It doesn’t help that the life of an artist is often misunderstood and marginalized. It typically takes years of toiling in obscurity before a stable career can be attained.
When incremental success is achieved, an artist may realize it’s not at all how they imagined it and add in unhealthy coping mechanisms such as drugs and alcohol, along with the rigorous schedule and lack of sleep that accompanies touring, and the results can be disastrous.