LIFE’s Mez Sanders-Green on music and mental health: ‘Young people should be the voice and driving force’

"This is something that central government is ignoring and squeezing out of the picture"

For World Mental Health Day, LIFE frontman Mez Sanders-Green has penned an open letter for NME about the importance of youth charity work and building a community that supports mental health and development within the creative industries.

Some of the leading charities around providing mental health support for musicians include HelpMusciansUK and Mez’s work starts at a grassroots level with The Warren – a youth charity which has provided free support services to Hull & East Yorkshire’s most marginalised and vulnerable young people for the past 35 years.

Read Mez’s full statement on mental health charity work and the struggles of going DIY below:

“At The Warren, we provide vital creative arts, mental-health and support services, and have been the nucleus of music and talent development growth within Hull. The primary lever of governance within the Warren is our own internal young persons’ parliament (called ‘The Thing’). Within ‘The Thing’, young people propose, discuss and vote for the services and support they want, and staff are then tasked with delivering it. Staff can propose ideas and contribute to debate – but they do not have a vote.

“This process has worked effectively for 35 years and leads us to believe that any organisation looking to enhance their understanding of the needs of young people and tackling mental health issues will need to involve young people at every stage of their decision-making process – and in a tangible non-tokenistic way. This enables young people to be the primary driving force in securing the services they feel they need. Basically to remove barriers and enable young people to access what they want within education, employment or the creative industries you have to allow for a person centred approach to your work and support.”

“The Warren is a project that encourages individuality and believes in the raw and inspirational talent of young people. If you do this you can tackle long standing mental health issues whilst allowing young people to realise their potential, take ownership of their futures and most importantly. allow them to have a voice – something which central government are adamant on ignoring and squeezing out of the picture.”

“To add to this, I think mental health in music is becoming more and more pressing. Yes, it’s always been there –  however the industry is becoming reliant on artists being DIY (like ourselves), which means you have to go a long way and spend a massive amount of time and money before reaping any rewards or career options. Being an independent artist now requires extreme resilience and hustle and we need to look at DIY as a privilege.

“It’s ok to say ‘do it yourself’, but what if you don’t have the skills, health and resources to do that? As musicians we need to take responsibility of building a community that helps us all and is not just for cliques and scenes. If we do this mental health will also benefit dramatically in my opinion.”

For help and advice on mental health: