Why Bands Need Couples Therapy and the Emotional Weight of a Fan’s Love Discussed in Mental Health Series ‘Green Room Talks’

Hitmaker Jenna Andrews’ “The Green Room Talks” digital series takes on difficult topics like drug and alcohol addiction, eating disorders, anxiety and depression in its latest episode. Featuring Ryan Dusick, Maroon 5 founding member and former drummer, Shirley Halperin, Variety’s executive editor, music, and Angie Pagano, founder and CEO of AMP Entertainment, the four discussed mental health struggles those in the music industry face, particularly when an artist starts out their career at a very young age.

Dusick left the band he co-founded after he suffered from a breakdown on the “Songs About Jane” tour in 2005. Since then Dusick has received his master’s degree in clinical psychology at Pepperdine University, and as a result, has become a marriage and family therapist. Most recently he wrote about his difficult time as a musician in his memoir, “Harder to Breathe: A Memoir of Making Maroon 5, Losing It All, and Finding Recovery.”

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Aspiring to become a musician, Dusick explains how that first dream turned into a deadly nightmare. “It’s crazy to think that the thing that you dreamed about doing your whole life, the fantasies you had about the life that you would live, like playing music for a living, could all of a sudden be something that’s really breaking you down. It becomes a toxic lifestyle when you’re just stretched beyond your means to cope.”

Halperin added, “I do think that it’s crazy pressure, especially as a teenager,” pointing out that all who gathered around the table “pursued our teenage dreams as a career.”

Asked how the pivotal moment on the “Songs About Jane” tour unfolded, Dusick revealed that, rather than it being his sole decision, the band convened to consider his future in Maroon 5 as it was on its meteoric rise.

As Dusick explained: “I went through a decade, after I left the band, of my self-esteem being absolutely bottomed out. My confidence was gone. My whole identity was wrapped up in being the drummer of Maroon 5 and all of a sudden, it wasn’t that anymore. And so [I asked] who am I? What is my value? What is my worth?”

“[Playing music] was gratifying and fulfilling in one way. But in some ways, [working with people] feels even closer to who I am and what I find really meaningful and purposeful in my life,” he added.

Halperin noted how, throughout her career, she’s observed how fans reveal to musicians the emotional impact the music had on their lives, recalling how artists begin to “carry that emotion” be receiving that love. “This is why artists actually need mental health professionals on the road and available to them,” she said.

Andrews, Dusick and Pagano agreed, hoping the industry will eventually provide such services in the future for musicians as well as executives.

While the stigma around mental health has reduced, Dusick believes “having a couples or family therapist for a band or any kind of creative group together is something that’s probably a necessity.”

Watch below for the full conversation.

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