Addiction and mental health issues are constantly in the news. There are support systems in place in most schools and workplaces. But what about those who do not live a traditional lifestyle or work in a traditional office?
Since the birth of the music industry, musicians have fallen prey to a normalized idea of substance abuse and poor mental health. Anyone in the music industry can probably tell more than a few stories of either personally battling addiction, or being close to another music professional who has had tough times.
“Often you’re celebrating an evening, or you’re coping with an evening,” is how Piva describes the life of a musician on the road. “Substance abuse … is often a way that people celebrate or cope.”
A few years ago, Piva was managing a cross-Canada tour when the musician suffered a drug relapse. Piva realized the growing need for addiction and mental health support within the music industry.
Upon returning from the tour, Piva enrolled in an Addiction Services program at McMaster University. While working in the field he started a Facebook page called Over the Bridge (a play on the song “Under the Bridge” by Red Hot Chilli Peppers) to help provide support for people in the music industry. After an overwhelming response, Piva went on to make Over the Bridge a non-profit organization.
Over the Bridge is growing quickly. They have participated at Indie Week with speakers such as Martin Atkins of NIN/Ministry and Chuck Randall, tour manager for Alice In Chains, as well as providing Naloxone training for those in the industry.
“The music industry is where my heart lies and where I want to help,” Piva said. “When you start working in the industry, that comes with expectations and that can be very hard on us.”
“When we open ourselves up to negative comments and feedback, there can be some heavy consequences that could mess with their heads. And it’s okay to talk about it. Unfortunately, not many people do. ”
The organization is also working on a documentary based on substance use within the music industry as well as a study in conjunction with McMaster University. The study will gather data on the effects of post-performance mood on musicians’ behaviour.
Check out their Facebook page @Overthebridgenonprofit for more details.