Dave Reid, founder of Minding Creative Minds, with musician Hozier.

Minding Creative Minds to promote mental health at Joy In The Park

Joy In The Park is due to take place in Fitzgerald’s Park on 23 July and one of the highlights of the day is sure to be the Couch Sessions, an afternoon of discussion curated by Minding Creative Minds.

Dave Reid is the founder of Minding Creative Minds, which is a 24/7 well-being support programme for anyone in the creative industry. He spoke to the Cork Independent on why it was established and the importance of mental health services for creatives.

“I was on the board of First Fortnight for seven years (a charity that challenges mental health prejudice through the arts) and in 2018 we did a survey of 1,400 creatives. 91% of people said that they had a mental health issue during their lifetime. 96% said that there was a need for a free mental health service,” he said.

Dave said it became apparent that there was a need to establish something and by June 2020 Minding Creative Minds was up and running.

“It’s for anyone in the creative industry. Artists and those working theatre, drama, film and visual arts can all use this service for free,” he said. “There’s a 24 hour helpline offering up to 12 free counselling sessions if people need it. We also offer financial advice, legal advice and a mentoring programme,” he added.

2000 people have contacted the programme since it began in 2020, 11% of the users are from Cork and Dave says that feedback has been positive. “If people need help with anything, we might not know the answer but we will try to find out. We are here to assist people as much as we can,” he said.

According to Dave, the creative industries can be particularly challenging for mental health, with anxiety being the most common issue they see, accounting for 26% of cases.

“It’s such a fractured industry, people have long working hours, irregular wages, a lot of people are freelance and there’s a lack of colleague support. And there is a statistic that says that creatives are more prone to having stress and anxiety issues than the average person,” he said.

Financial pressure is another issue that creatives are dealing with. “A lot of creatives their time putting their own money into trying to support themselves in their industry. As a musician, you might be trying to put out records, pay for a tour, pay for PR and make very little money. There’s a lack of structured income coming in which does lead to stress,” he explained.

When asked about the sustainability of a career in the creative industries, Dave expressed his belief that it is possible but acknowledged that it comes with challenges.

“There’s 55,000 people working in the creative industry in Ireland, but in terms of someone becoming the next Hozier it’s hard to break through and make a living so there has to be some sense of realism too. I think it’s important that people have the support and knowledge base to help them progress. There are also initiatives like the basic income for artists scheme, where 1500 creatives are receiving €325 a week for 3 years. Schemes like that help and I think overall post-Covid the creative sector is in a better place.”

Minding Creative Minds will host a career-focused panel at Joy In The Park called Broaden Your Horizon As A Creative. Moderated by Mary Crilly of Safe Gigs, she will be joined by a number of panelists talking about their own careers including Dublin poet, Stephen James Smith and comedian and co-presenter of Cork Red FM’s Breakfast Laura O’Mahony.