If you’re wondering what you need to ask, I’ve compiled a brief health questionnaire, which you can find below. Bear in mind this is not an empirically validated psychological assessment, nor is it a stress risk assessment (1).
Completing the questionnaire with an artist requires tact and for you to respect, protect and preserve their confidentiality. If the artist provides informed consent, relevant information could be shared with the tour manager, agent or day manager (2).
Music Industry Therapists Collective (MITC) Pre-Tour Health Questionnaire
- Does the artist have any long-term physical health conditions? (e.g. requiring regular medication, blood test monitoring or periodic GP/physician review). If so, please consult a physician/GP for medical advice ahead of the tour.
- Does the artist have any physical injuries that may affect, or be affected by, the tour? (specify date of injury, how the injury happened (mechanism), dates and type of physical therapy/investigations/medication).
- Does the artist have any known allergies?
- Artist’s blood type.
- Emergency contact information.
- Physician/GP name and contact details.
- Is the artist currently struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties, mental illness, addiction (substance, alcohol or behavioural), alcohol or substance dependency, self-harm or eating disorders?
- Is there a known history of mental illness, addiction, alcohol or substance dependency, self-harm or eating disorders?
- Has the artist suffered any recent bereavements, losses (including relationship breakups), traumas or health events?
- Is the artist taking any prescription medication? (If so, suggest a medication review with their psychiatrist or physician ahead of the tour. This can ensure that they have the correct prescription to meet their needs, in the correct amount. It also reduces the likelihood that they seek out medication that has been prescribed to someone else.)
- Is the artist currently seeing a psychotherapist or counsellor? If so, block off regular time in the schedule for them to meet with their therapist (bear in mind that the frequency of therapy sessions may need to increase prior to, during or post-tour due to increased stress).
- What concerns does the artist have (if any) about the upcoming tour?
- Has the artist struggled previously on tour?
- If so, what did they find most difficult to cope with?
- What happens when the artist is struggling? (symptoms of stress response, warning signs)
- What coping strategies have proved helpful to them in the past?
- Who does the artist have in their support system, and who could they contact in a crisis?
- Can they identify triggers that might be avoided or managed? (crowded spaces, drugs or alcohol, personal questions in interviews etc.)
- How does the artist unwind post-performance?
- What physical activities does the artist enjoy?
- Do they have any hobbies or self-care activities that can be planned during down-time?
- Is the artist currently in a 12-step programme? If so, research the meetings available in each stop (and online) so that they can continue attending during the tour. Encourage regular contact with their sponsor.
Answers to this questionnaire may indicate potential risk of psychological or physical difficulties developing or worsening on the road. If the answer to questions 7, 8 or 9 is ‘yes’ think together with the artist about what they might need whilst they are touring. Engage with professional help before you set off, so that the artist is under someone’s care before entering a period of intensity. You could also suggest that they create a crisis plan. A crisis plan includes strategies and contact numbers to use in a crisis, should their mental health worsen and they find themselves unable to cope. Download the MITC crisis plan template on touringmanual.com.
If answers reveal deficits in protective factors like coping strategies and social support, consider how these areas can be improved before the tour starts. Also consider how protective factors and treatment can be consistently maintained whilst they are out on the road.
- Find examples of stress risk assessments online at the Health and Safety Executive website: https://www.hse.gov.uk/stress/risk-assessment.htm. In-depth psychological assessments can be provided by trained professionals (like MITC).
- Best to get informed consent in writing.