With Glastonbury already been and gone, and Camp Bestival on the horizon, summer 2019’s festival season is well and truly upon us. If it’s been a tough first half of the year, losing yourself in the music and partying with your mates for a weekend can provide the ultimate escape – but the chaotic nature of festivals, and the abundance of alcohol and drugs, could also bring up some trickier feelings and send your mental health spiralling.
Struggling with your mental health at a festival can feel bewildering and isolating – especially if the thousands of people around you all seem to be having the time of their lives. But you should be able to find mental health support at most of the UK’s major music festivals, to help you take a step back from the noise and talk things through over a soothing cup of tea.
Community Interest Company (CIC) Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) England works with St John Ambulance to deliver training in mental health first aid across the country, with nearly half a million people trained in MHFA England skills so far. Chief Executive Simon Blake OBE tells me they’re working towards a future where all events have first aiders equipped to tackle both mental and physical health issues.
Why festivals might be triggering
“Festivals can be intense experiences, with large crowds and lots of noise. They can be stressful environments, and this sensory overload can trigger anxiety and panic attacks for some people,” Blake explains. “Poor diet and a lack of sleep are a fairly common part of many people’s festival experience too. We know that both are key to supporting good mental health, so when they get neglected over the course of a festival this can also impact our wellbeing,” he adds.
Equally, if you’ve been struggling with mental health problems anyway, or you’re stressed about personal issues that you thought you’d left at home for the weekend, the intensity and disruption to your normal routine could bring those feelings bubbling to the surface – no matter how hard you try to ignore them.