- 06 Oct 23
Dave Reid, the founder of Minding Creative Minds, tells us how the organisation continues to enhance its programme to support the Irish creative community – from mental health services, to everyday career advice.
Before launching Minding Creative Minds (MCM) in the summer of 2020, Dave Reid recognised that there was “a distinct lack of support” for those working in the creative industries in Ireland.
As the founder of the Choice Music Prize, and an artist manager – who had also completed a HDip in Counselling and an MA in Psychotherapy – Dave had a unique insight into the tough realities that are too often faced by the people who make Ireland’s creative sector so special. It was an area that he got further involved in back in 2011, when he joined the team behind the First Fortnight mental health festival.
“We did a survey back in 2019 with First Fortnight, of 1,300 people from various kinds of arts backgrounds – music, theatre, film, etc,” he recalls. “In that survey, 91% of people said that they’d had a mental health issue in the previous couple of years. And 95% felt that there should be a counselling support service for the creative sector, because a lot are freelance, and just can’t afford therapy or support.
“That was the impetus to try and drive this project forward,” he adds.
Since its launch three years ago – as the first 24/7 mental health and wellbeing support programme for the Irish creative community – MCM has seen around 800 people contact the service each year, as well as 1,200 counselling sessions taking place each year.
From the beginning, MCM offered a 24/7 dedicated phone line, a counselling service, and telephone/secure video counselling – but it has since expanded its approach considerably. It’s putting an increased emphasis on offering various forms of support, and not only in the area of mental health.
“We have a mentoring programme, which we’ve put 900 people through in the last two years,” he says. “Each of those have got between three and six hours of quality mentoring support from a mentor in their area – whether it’s music, music management, theatre, film, visual arts, etc.
“We also run a lot of master classes,” he continues. “1,400 people have attended our master classes, mainly online, between January and June of this year. They could have been in anything – like digital marketing, how to write a script, or insurance for creatives.”
Other notable developments include increasing the number of free counselling sessions available from six to 12 earlier this year. Last October, MCM also enhanced its counselling service to include specialist trauma and abuse counselling.
“Historically, there was a lot of abuse in the creative industry, over many years,” Dave remarks. “Now, survivors of sexual abuse can immediately get 12 sessions with a trauma counsellor, which can be arranged quickly, in a matter of days.”
The team behind MCM are also planning further developments over the weeks and months ahead – including free music therapy, drama therapy, and art therapy.
“We’re also trying to branch out into more career stuff,” Dave notes. “We had a career summit last May, and we hope to build an app that will act as a jobs board for the creative industry as well.”
Another important area they’re looking to address is addiction in the creative sector – which they recently discussed at a panel as part of Ireland Music Week 2023.
Thank you to our contributors and all who came to our session on addiction @IrlMusicWeek
A lot of honesty and strength in the room busting through any shame or stigma
If you ever need addiction support, we're here to help you, at no cost 24/7.https://t.co/M5RYXuO2jH pic.twitter.com/9uAZkZiCMk
— Minding Creative Minds (@MindingCreative) October 4, 2023
“It could mean that we’ll be able to facilitate support groups, but initially, it would be about signposting people to addiction services, or support,” Dave says of their future work in this area. “We feel it’s something that we should be doing, but we have to get it right, because it’s extremely specialised.
“We’re launching a survey about all our services, but it also has some questions on what people might expect from us, in terms of addiction support.”
MCM is a remarkably well-rounded programme, but for Dave, the focus remains on “trying to develop it as much as we can – to try and meet a need that’s definitely there.”
“Because for too long, there weren’t many tangible supports there,” he resumes. “So, to anybody that needs a chat, we’d just say reach out, and contact the helpline. Or contact us if they need some career advice or mentoring.
“We’re there to help,” he adds. “Our motto is, if we don’t know the answer, we’ll find someone who does.”
• For more information see mindingcreativeminds.ie