It feels like every few weeks a musician is lost to suicide or substance abuse; however, this is not a new phenomenon.
Each generation has a list too long of musicians that have left too soon.
The clichéd lifestyle of a musician is one of drugs, alcohol and risk-taking; after all, psychedelic rockers of the sixties weren’t renowned for bragging about early nights and eating their greens, but this is not always the case and bands like Hey Harriett are committed to looking after their musician mates.
When Georgy Rochow isn’t fronting Hey Harriett, performing solo, attending university, playing the piano accordion or glockenspiel for Bromham you will find her recharging her batteries with yoga and nature.
“Accessibility to drugs and alcohol is prevalent within the music industry and using them can aggravate mental health issues,” she says. “It’s easy to have a few beers to take away performance anxiety or use substances as an escape, but it’s not sustainable.
“Having struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life, I can empathise with anyone going through hard times.”
It’s these difficult times within her life, which Georgy is able to draw upon for creative inspiration.
“Family and friends have taught me a lot about different aspects of mental illness and it’s inspiring. My songs are like an open diary.”
However, her music is far from melancholy. With an indie / surf / rock sound, the music of Hey Harriett is positive and uplifting, something that Georgy aims to promote.
“My image as an artist is to promote healthy living in the music industry,” she says.
With mounting pressure on an already strained healthcare system, accessing mental health services can be challenging.
Bureaucratic red tape, long wait lists and the stigma associated with mental health only compound the problem.
“[Mental health is] still seen as something that’s intangible, difficult for people to understand and makes them uncomfortable. Although, I’m extremely open and honest about what I’m going through,” Georgy explains.
It’s this open dialogue that breaks down walls and paves the way for understanding.
The arts have always been a strong voice for the vulnerable and disenfranchised, shedding light on topics all too often taboo, so when Tom Gentry of IKAG Productions contacted Georgy about using her music in a local production about relationships and mental health she jumped at the chance.
Nerve by Adam Szymkowicz is a black comedy and captures the epitome of toxic relationships and is set to open next year.
“I think my music fits it to a tee and I’m very excited to see how it all comes together,” Georgy says.
Whether it’s through education, music, theatre or honest conversations, mental health is not a subject that will remain in the shadows, nor should it.
Make sure you ask if people are ok, not just on RUOK day, but every day and if you or someone you know is struggling, please contact any of the following;
Lifeline 13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au/
Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 https://kidshelpline.com.au/
Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/
Words and pictures by Katrina Hall