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Mind dimension: DJs are finally opening up about mental health

The rigours of being a touring DJ can affect your mental health. But people are opening up about it

  • Colin Brownbill
  • 4 March 2016

Anyone who follows the DJs Complaining Twitter account will know that DJs aren’t usually on the receiving end of much sympathy. And in fairness, considering the obscene amounts of money many of them earn for jet-setting around the world and living the kind of life that would be beyond the wildest dreams of the rest of us, it’s understandable. But, a few recent revelations from high-profile figures in our industry have shown that it’s not always the bed of roses we might assume. Mental health issues will affect one in four of us, and DJs are not immune. In fact, they’re perhaps more susceptible to these problems than the rest of us, given the lifestyle of non-stop touring and partying.

According to Emma Mamo, Head of Workplace Wellbeing at mental health charity Mind, many of the things that promote good mental health, like a good night’s sleep, a healthy, balanced diet and a strong social network are all things that can easily fall by the wayside for any touring DJ. Add to that irregular working hours, a lack of sunlight, increasingly rigorous touring schedules, not to mention the likelihood of a fair amount of alcohol and substance indulgence and DJs really are being exposed to a cluster of potentially dangerous factors.

And in fairness, it’s unsurprising that so many DJs lean on alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism – whether it’s a subconscious choice or not. When you spend most of your time in clubs or at afterparties, meeting a succession of strangers eager to piggyback on your supposedly glamorous lifestyle, it’s inevitable that the majority of people around you will be drinking or dabbling. Excess and indulgence are ingrained in club culture, and resisting can prove incredibly difficult. And even if you do start to see the encroaching signs of addiction and dependency, it’s not easy to take a disciplined stand and turn down free drinks. And breaking the cycle is much easier said than done when so much of your career is spent in clubs and in the company of people who revel in getting smashed. Sadly, the incredible highs are always likely to be followed by some kind of low.

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