The Austin Artists Show recently featured Patsy Dolan, Executive Director of the SIMS Foundation, which is based here in Austin. The following is an excerpt of their interview.
Q: Musicians in Austin are certainly familiar with the SIMS Foundation, but for those who are not: can you tell us a little bit about its history?
A: The SIMS Foundation was founded in 1995 after a young man by the name of Sims Ellison died by suicide. He was in a band called Pariah, and a lot of the people in the local music community were really good friends of his; people knew that he suffered from depression, but like a lot of things when it comes to mental health, no one really talked about it. When he died by suicide, it sort of just shook the community, and they banded together to form SIMS. It started with a really sort of innocent idea that we have musicians who are suffering needlessly, so let’s connect them to some therapists. Since then, we’ve grown immensely; we help with every level of care that our healthcare system offers for behavioral healthcare issues. We serve musicians, music industry professionals, and their dependent family members, and we are the only nonprofit in the nation that does this work.
Q: I’ve had the privilege of working with SIMS on a couple different occasions, both as a recipient of resources and helping raise awareness against the stigma of mental illness. Where can we expect to see the SIMS Foundation out and about in our community?
A: Well, locally, we have an ongoing partnership with BLK Vinyl [Editor’s note: On “SIMS Saturdays,” BLK Vinyl matches all sales with donations to the SIMS Foundation]. We’ve hosted fundraisers everywhere, from large public spaces like St. Elmo’s Brewing to private residences.
On October 10th [Ed: World Mental Health Day], we’re having our annual Music for the Mind event at Arlyn Studios, and this is the first time we’re back doing a live version of this since 2019!
Q: Tell us more about that.
A: As I said, it’s an annual event that we actually started in 2019, and it’s just a time to have everybody come together in this historic recording studio that some of the most amazing people have recorded in, have some great artists play, and just enjoy each other, enjoy the music, and share a little bit about SIMS. This is our first year back in person since the pandemic, so we’re really excited! We have Paul Wall and Deezie Brown playing, among others, and we should have the graphics and the ticket link up on our website.
Q: What is that website? Where can we get more information?
A: The best place to find information about SIMS is just on our website, which is simsfoundation.org. It has our history, information on how you become a client, everything about all the various levels of care, events that are happening… You can find out how to get support, learn about services and eligibility, and get help from the SIMS clinical team. The website also has information on how to donate to support the emotional well-being of our music community, and it also tells you how you can get involved as an individual.