Concerts to support mental health in the NI music industry

Local bands will be covering the songs of the late Scott Hutchinson on Saturday evening in the Oh Yeah Music Centre
Local bands will be covering the songs of the late Scott Hutchinson on Saturday evening in the Oh Yeah Music Centre

This weekend will see two events take place in Belfast to address the scourge of mental health issues in the music industry.

On Saturday evening in the Oh Yeah Music Centre there will be a Belfast tribute to the late Scott Hutchinson of the band Frightened Rabbit, who died suddenly in May following struggles with depression.

The Oh Yeah Music Centre's Charlene Hegarty

The Oh Yeah Music Centre's Charlene Hegarty

Proceeds will go towards funding the delivery of mental health first aid training by Aware NI to the first cohort gig buddies to the NI music scene, a befriending initiative for the events sector.

Oh Yeah Music Centre’s Charlene Hegarty said: “Gig buddies is a UK wide initiative that’s trying to pick up support through fundraising. The idea is very simple – some people will not go to gigs because of the anxiety around not knowing what lies ahead.

“When I go to a gig I don’t think about where the fire exit is, how busy it’s going to be, where the nearest bathroom is, but that’s enough to put some people off going to gigs. The gig buddy scheme is specialist training to people who can be a friend to someone who is maybe quite anxious and just needs someone with an understanding manner to be there with them.”

The second event to raise funds for Aware NI, a charity which works with people suffering with depression and bipolar disorder, takes place on Sunday.

Rude Health will see nearly a dozen artists put on an all-day show in the Limelight complex.

Charlene said: “One thing I think the music community in Belfast is exceptionally good at is banding together when a cause really needs support. I remember years ago there was a tsunami that hit on Boxing Day and within days they held a massive fundraiser in the Limelight complex and raised so much money.

“For Rude Health all the artists are giving up their time for free and the Limelight have given us the venue for free.

“We are all united in the same kind of understanding that we need to do everything we can to support each other.

“The music community has been rocked in the past few years by a number of suicides, many within our immediate community.

“Everybody’s aware of the problem, it’s being met with response but there’s still an issue at large, so we’re trying to do our bit to raise awareness, try to break the stigma – it’s okay not to be okay.

“No matter what level you’re at in the music industry, depression doesn’t discriminate. There is pressure on a musician to be constantly successful. Psychological issues arise in dealing with feeling of failures if your new single got less plays on Spotify than your previous one.”

• For more info go to www.soundofbelfast.com