Following World Mental Health Day, which took place earlier this month on October 10, we spoke with Chris Bullard, Executive Director of Sound Mind. The organization emphasizes the importance of open discussion surrounding mental health.
The music industry in particular can be a difficult place to maintain a proper balance. From late nights, to competitive levels of dedication, alcohol-packed events, bearing your soul in front of strangers, and so much more, there are a lot of variables that can be detrimental to mental health. But, there are so many resources out there to help, not to mention a consistently dwindling stigma thanks to organizations like Sound Mind Live, and artists that are willing to spread the word and openly discuss their experiences through music.
Get to know more about Sound Mind Live directly from the source in our interview with Chris Bullard, below:
What is Sound Mind?
Sound Mind is a non-profit organization with a mission to build community and open dialogue around mental health through the power of music. We bring together a coalition of artists speaking up about mental health in order to decrease mental health stigma and increase awareness of and access to critical mental health resources.
What are your goals as an organization?
Sound Mind seeks to build a world in which our mental health binds us rather than separates us, and mental health issues are approached with compassion, empathy, and a desire to explore our humanity, rather than judgment. This means bringing together cultural music leaders across genres, as well as thought leaders in both the entertainment and mental health spheres, who believe in this same vision and seek to leverage their platform to promote equal access to mental health resources, information, and services regardless of race, age, gender orientation, or socioeconomic standing.
Why is it important to recognize World Mental Health Day? What’s the history or significance of this day?
The operative word here is WORLD. Mental health is something we can all relate to. Everyone has faced mental health challenges along a spectrum, either themself or those closest to them, to varying degrees. Since the pandemic in particular, we’ve been bound by a collective trauma we’ve faced together. The significance of World Mental Health Day is to acknowledge that when it comes to mental health, our journeys and struggles along this path may be different, but they are something that bind us together and point toward something much greater about our common humanity.
The hardest part is taking that first step. What advice would you give to someone who is struggling but doesn’t know where to start?
It’s important to acknowledge the subtlety in what is a “step.” Many people think of “first step” as finding a therapist or going to group counseling. These things can be enormously helpful, but can also be daunting if you’ve never done them. If someone is reading this article right now, it’s important to acknowledge that this in itself is a step.
Alternatively, if you’re having a conversation about a first step with a loved one it’s important to acknowledge that the person you’re speaking with already had to take steps to enter the space of that conversation with you. We need to acknowledge how far we’ve come to get where we are to be able to even ask that question. Then, the next step can be as simple as telling the person you trust most what is going on. It’s also important to try to have openness as to what the response may be, we may find love from unexpected places, or even judgment from unexpected places.
I try to remind people that a mental health journey is not one of simply “fixing my mental health problem.” It’s a journey of self discovery, facing fears, and growth. There is a hero’s journey to be found within addressing your mental health issues and we’re all at different places along that path.
What are some upcoming events or resources that artists or music industry professionals could participate in?
We are hosting a World Mental Health Day benefit concert in partnership with Relix and American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at Brooklyn Bowl NYC on October 21st. We’re fortunate to be joined by Fantastic Negrito, Langhorne Slim, Son Little, and other great artists who are passionate about mental health. People can attend in person or watch online via Relix’s Twitch channel. Our aim is to elevate the conversation through this event, and also raise proceeds to help support the incredible work and resources of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If someone wanted to get more involved with mental health awareness and advocacy, where could they start?
Feel free to reach out to us directly at our website. Our site also lists a number of our partner mental health organizations like AFSP, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and many more. Many of these organizations also have local affiliates where you can really drive change on a local grassroots level as well.
Where do you see Sound Mind Live headed in 5-10 years?
One of our core activities is building an annual mental health music festival. 2022 it will be our fourth year and we plan to have over 5,000 people attend. We see this growing to 100,000 in the coming years.
More broadly, our hope is that over this time we’re able to contribute to a significant decrease in stigma around mental health, and we can shift the conversation from stigma-busting toward driving greater equity in access to care, and further exploring the root causes of our collective mental health crisis as a society; which run deeper than simply diagnosis and treatment.