Tonic Rider scheme launches to support mental health in music

Tonic Rider scheme launches to support mental health in music

Terry Hall of The Specials and Barry Ashworth of Dub Pistols have launched a new project to support the mental health in the music industry.

Tonic Rider is a new programme created by the Tonic Music For Mental Health charity to offer free mental health support to the music community around musicians and venues.

The programme will offer virtual peer group sessions delivered by Babyshambles’ Adam Ficek, as well as digital workshops for performance anxiety, acceptance commitment therapy, mindfulness, emotional coping skills, mental health first aid, suicide prevention education and more.

Terry Hall and Barry Ashworth are patrons of the charity, which is seeking to help musicians and venue starr during the pandemic and beyond. Tonic Rider will work virtually with venues including the 100 Club in London and Portsmouth’s Wedgewood Rooms.

There are plans to roll it out physically to venues, festivals and Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) members, with eventual plans to include the Tonic Rider on rider lists, venue posters and Tonic Hubs at partner live events. Tonic Rider is also undertaking a study led by Jeordie Shenton (PhD researcher, Goldsmiths) and Ficek (psychotherapist, DPsych researcher) into the mental health of music industry professionals.


With the music industry on its knees, this is needed now more than ever

Barry Ashworth, Dub Pistols

Barry Ashworth said: “Among my music circle, it’s been devastating to lose friends to suicide since the pandemic. People have lost their livelihoods, their identities, their confidence and have feelings of anxiety, depression and feelings of hopelessness. The need is urgent and I’m really honoured to work with an organisation that is providing practical support where it’s most needed. The Tonic Rider is providing much needed mental health support remotely to venues and the rest of the community. With the music industry on its knees, it is needed now more than ever.”

Terry Hall said: “These are terribly testing times for those of us with mental health issues. My mental health deteriorated towards the end of last year. The thing that got me through was communication. If you’re suffering, then it is incredibly important to tell people, family, friends, doctors, Tonic! Tell them to check on you... always! Share your health issues…they aren’t problems. Most of all…stay safe…stay secure...We’ll get there!!”


These are terribly testing times for those of us with mental health issues

Terry Hall, The Specials

Adam Ficek commented:“The Tonic Rider peer support group will be a free, safe space to be heard and supported. From my experience there is a huge benefit of being validated in a shared community. The current pandemic has crushed the music industry and subsequently the mental health of many musicians and I feel privileged to give something back by facilitating these groups.”

Steph Langan, Tonic Music For Mental Health CEO, added: “Given the current crisis within every area of the music industry, but especially the struggling live sector, we are pleased to bring together our experts to launch Tonic Rider digital support programme, as well as the research study at this time. Providing free, remote support to musicians and venues will allow us to reach the people who need our support the most at this time of great uncertainty and change. Whilst venues are closed, it will be a particularly helpful time for venue staff and musicians to receive vital psychoeducational training, emotional support and access to advice and support via digital resources. We are working together with our partners, including the NTIA, so that when the world re-opens, Tonic Rider can offer face-to-face support.”

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