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(Credit: Lindsay Melbourne)


IDLES, Portishead and more appear in mental health documentary ‘Man Down’


A number of musicians, including IDLES, Portishead and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, have appeared in a new film about male mental health in the music industry titled Man Down. Directed by Gemma Jennison, the founder of the Man Down programme, the film touches on topics such as depression, isolation and suicide.

As well as being the brains behind the Man Down programme, Jennison is a qualified mental health nurse based in Bristol. She told the BBC that male musicians were especially at risk of experiencing serious mental health problems.

The creation of the programme was Jennison’s reaction to seeing several people she was close to struggling with mental illness but being unable to vocalise their difficulties. “I wanted to look at what the trends were and why men were struggling,” she explained. “I decided that in order to do that music industries needed to be accountable or have discussions openly about what they did with artists or any of their staff about wellbeing.”

As well as Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, the Man Down documentary will feature Rag ‘N’ Bone Man, who opens up about the mental health issues he experienced while on tour. As he explains in the film: “A lot of things changed very quickly.”

Man Down arrives at a time when the music industry is still reeling from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. The complete shutdown of the live events industry completely altered the feasibility of industry workers to make a living in the sector, leading to a huge increase in the number of musicians and music professionals contacting mental health support lines.

Man Down was screened yesterday (May 5th) at the Cube Cinema and was dedicated to Bristol MC and Central Spillz collective member Sirplus, who recently took his own life.

For help and advice on mental health:

  • Help Musicians UK – Around the clock mental health support and advice for musicians (CALL MUSIC MINDS MATTER ON: 0808 802 8008)
  • CALM – The Campaign Against Living Miserably
  • Music Support Org – Help and support for musicians struggling with alcoholism, addiction, or mental health issues (CALL: 0800 030 6789)
  • YOUNG MINDS – The voice for young people’s health and wellbeing
  • Time To Change – Let’s end mental health discrimination
  • The Samaritans – Confidential support 24 hours a day