Phil Harvey plays an interesting role with Coldplay. He was critical in getting the first 50 copies of the band’s Safety EP sold and helping the band rocket to fame, acted as Coldplay’s manager for while and, although he doesn’t perform with the band (at least, I don’t think he does), Coldplay has listed him on album sleevenotes as the fifth member.
Coldplay’s MySpace page actually titles Harvey as “the wise handsome frightening one who tells us what to do.”
Whatever that means.
All of that is interesting enough, but what shines the Mental Health Month Spotlight on Harvey isn’t what he does with Coldplay; it’s what he does for the mental health community.
Back in 2001 Harvey suffered from depression and anxiety – which he attributes to the long hours he worked, focused solely on promoting Coldplay – and like any smart person, he took some time off to get his own act together.
“I remember this all as being an isolating experience. I normally think of myself as, literally, an upbeat kind of person – it was all quite a shock. Regardless of how the world might perceive it [a mental health problem] can strike any person.”
Shortly after that, Harvey decided he wanted to get involved with volunteer work in the mental health field and applied for a position Upbeat, “a user-led arts organisation with a focus on providing an inclusive service to individuals recovering from mental health issues.”
Upbeat aims to provide developmental support to a range of musicians and performers from diverse backgrounds and cultures by working in partnership with other community organisations. Support includes rehearsal time and space, training, promotion, performance opportunities and recording.
In addition to helping promote and manage Upbeat’s bands, acting as the organization’s vice-chair, and getting Coldplay on board as the organization’s patrons, Harvey is also on the road to a career in psychology. He earned a psychology degree from Australia’s University of Melbourne after completing a psychotherapy and counseling foundation course at London’s Regents College, and he plans to pursue doctorate in clinical psychology.
It’s not uncommon for folks to get into mental health advocacy or careers after they conquer their own battles with mental health issues, or see people close to them struggling with mental illness, and while it feels slightly weird shining a spotlight on someone who “admits to enjoying the comfort of relative anonymity” (maybe it’s a good thing I could find no band pictures that included him?), his path is one I believe can help inspire and offer direction to others.
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Last reviewed: 4 May 2011