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meet the social enterprise delivering mental health support to creative folks and their audiences

meet the social enterprise delivering mental health support to creative folks and their audiences

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Hey Mate founder Aimee Davies shares the deets on a wellbeing initiative for live events and an upcoming music festival for mental health.

It’s no secret that the past couple of years have been rough for artists, musicians and creative-industry workers. And while going to a gig or buying art are great ways to support the financial wellbeing of our favourite creatives and venues, it’s easy to forget that their mental wellbeing might need a hand, too. That’s where Hey Mate comes in. The social enterprise aims to provide that much-needed support to members of creative industries, as well as the wider community. Here, Hey Mate founder Aimee Davies tells us all about how the organisation started, its super-important Live Event Wellbeing Program (LEWP) and the mental health music festival that’s playing across Australia in March and April, Torch Fest.

How did Hey Mate begin? It began out of necessity. It was 2019 and I was working in the community services sector, as well as managing my creative studio. I encountered the challenges that Australian creative industries collectively experienced and decided to put together a resource of services available to them, but, to my surprise, found very little. There were, however, wonderful services available in the UK and America. One program which particularly resonated with me was LIVELIVE – an initiative that went on tour with musician Lewis Capaldi and provided social and emotional support to gig-goers. I reached out to them and explained the current predicament in Australia and they were very supportive. I ultimately decided that, if you can’t find it, build it, and Hey Mate was established a few months later.

Rolling out a social enterprise to support the creative industries while experiencing a pandemic has been challenging, but it has given us the opportunity to really work with our community to create the services, programs and support that they really need. Fast-forward to 2022 and we have a wonderful team of mental wellbeing professionals working across all of the creative industries – live music, performing arts, media and entertainment, advertising, graphic design and more – while also supporting our clients during international work opportunities. What a ride!

What’s LEWP? LEWP, inspired by LIVELIVE, works to stamp out the stigma and social isolation that is experienced with mental illness and anxiety by working with artists, venues, festivals, touring companies and more to build an inclusive, considerate culture, accessible experiences and a wider community. We provide emotional support and mentoring to improve the wellbeing and overall experiences of artists, crew, industry professionals and gig-goers at live events. LEWP Hubs are hosted backstage and front-of-house at events across Australia to address particular needs that can arise on tour, or while attending or performing at live events and in festival environments.

How can industry professionals get involved with LEWP? Hey Mate partners with festivals, artists and venues to deliver LEWP, and we welcome anyone who would like to get involved. LEWP is a really flexible platform where we can personalise the delivery to meet the needs of each partnership opportunity.

How can folks outside of creative industries get involved? Sharing the work that we do is a great place to start. Advocating for creative-industry-specific support in the workplace or requesting that LEWP is available at an event you might be attending can be really impactful. 

Tell us about Torch Fest. Torch Fest is facilitated by award-winning music charity, Listen Up Music. It’s Australia’s biggest mental health music festival, debuting at West Room, Brisbane, in 2021. This year, between March and April, it expands to Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra alongside Brisbane, with each edition featuring more than 15 artists. In addition to the music, you can visit the pick:Up Village – a dedicated space with positive mental health activities designed to equip people with tools and resources to develop and maintain positive mental health.

Will Hey Mate host more mental health events in the future? We’ll be partnering with festivals, artists and events throughout 2022 and beyond to deliver LEWP. Hey Mate will also be hosting a range of panel discussions, retreats and other mental health events in the near future. 

How has the music industry responded to Hey Mate since it began? We’ve had such a positive response. It is through music industry organisations and individuals advocating for a mentally-healthy industry that we have been able to make an impact. Hey Mate has also encouraged larger industry organisations to improve the quality of services available to the music industry. Gone are the days of key organisations acting as gatekeepers; Hey Mate has been able to start from grass roots, make impactful changes to the music industry and encourage others to do the same.

What else is on the cards for Hey Mate in the future? After a couple of years on Zoom, we’re ready to hit the road and connect with our community face-to-face. This year will be a year of live events for Hey Mate, delivering our specialised counselling services as well as workshops and other opportunities to connect and educate the creative community.