Our mental health, and the mental health of our colleagues, friends and family is something that we at Unusual feel is important to address all year round. The past couple of years have taken their toll on us all in some way or another. And while we are now in a world (in the UK at least) where there is some semblance of normality, it would be wrong to downplay the impact that the pandemic has had, and continues to have on us all. That’s why, as this year’s Mental Health Awareness week draws to a close, we thought it only fitting to talk about the ‘AJ Bursary’ Mental Health First Aider Course.
AJ’s commitment to support good mental health within our industry continues with this bursary in his name. Launched at PLASA last year by industry charity Backup, we at Unusual decided to sponsor the course in AJ’s name. As a long serving and valued Backup Trustee, AJ was always concerned about the welfare of his colleagues, acknowledging that as individuals, we are often not good at asking others for help or asking if they themselves need help. AJ was keen to change that and to ensure that empathy and compassion for the difficulties, stresses and challenges incurred within this industry are fully supported and accommodated through good mental health practices and professionally provided interventions when necessary.
The courses are provided by fellow industry charity, Music Support – a Mental Health First Aid England Instructor Member. Backup chose to work with Music Support as it has a first hand understanding of our industry and the challenges that our colleagues face. Since its launch, 100 course places have been made available over a 12-month period to freelancers, as Backup recognises that it is the freelance community that has the most immediate need.
Backup’s remit is to support the welfare of the technical community in our industry and is there to help if colleagues are struggling with their mental health. Hardship. Injury or illness. The charity’s mission is to ensure that there will always be one trained Mental Health First aider crem member for every 20 crew, no matter what the event is or the size of the whole crew.


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