No doubt, the pandemic has impacted most industries. However, the entertainment industry was the first to shut down and will be the last to fully re-open. Entertainment industry workers, specifically those behind the scenes, have long experienced mental health challenges and stereotypically, haven’t easily accessed services. The pandemic has only further shed a light on individuals in the entertainment industry, and with this, a strong call for mental health professionals who are equipped to provide support and tailor their clinical practices for those working behind the scenes.
According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health), one in five adults will experience or have experienced a mental health struggle. In 2019, this individual represented 19.1% of U.S. adults – that is to say about 47.6 million living with a mental illness. Now, triple that number. Individuals working in the entertainment industry — actors, musicians, stage production, roadies — those in front of and behind the set/stage — are approximately three times more likely to struggle with mental health challenges. Moreover, there is a disproportionate struggle with substance misuse in this population. While Arts and Entertainment can transcend emotions and benefit our well-being, it’s somewhat ironic that production and tech workers — the ones we don’t see — are, in fact, suffering. Behind the Scenes, a nonprofit foundation that provides support to entertainment technology professionals, created the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Initiative to support entertainment industry workers and promote mental health and psychological safety.
The unique pressure
The stresses and unique challenges that entertainers face have a detrimental influence on their well-being and mental health. Common industry threads include financial instability, irregular hours, transient work and its impact on relationships, and lack of permanency. Bullying, harassment, and intimidation might happen, and leaders are unsure how to help on how to deal with these kinds of mental health conditions. This can make people even more vulnerable. It’s also not uncommon for those working in the entertainment industry to lack insurance that covers behavioral health costs.
Mental health and the entertainment industry have often been confused with bipolar disorder but it is real, depression, anxiety, stigma lack of focus are some of the major symptoms shown by Hollywood celebrities who are suffering from mental health issues.
Why the need for a therapist?
It is vitally important to have a cadre of therapists who are familiar with the industry, cognizant of how anxiety, depression, and PTSD are triggered in these workplaces, and willing to adjust their practices to meet the needs of this population (for example, by incorporating sliding scales). Behind the Scenes is passionate about helping industry workers and their families access support and find mental health professionals who get it — and we’re excited to partner with GoodTherapy to help make those connections.
The old adage “the show must go on” is exactly that — old. The show can’t go on if a show’s production — sound, lighting, costume design, and more — comes to a halt. We’ve seen an uptick in the entertainment industry talking about mental health and wellness; the pandemic has further fueled this discussion. If we continue this conversation and this cultural shift in the way we view mental health, the show can go on in a way that is healthy and sustainable for all.
Mental health challenges and other mental illnesses among entertainers
There are many Hollywood stories of celebrities in their best careers having suicidal thoughts or even battling substance abuse leading to their downfall and discrimination and isolation after their failures and most can’t even secure any job after the downfall. Many content creators are mostly young adults and have faced rejection from the general public.
Addressing mental health issues
one of the mental health first aid is having a person to talk to and being close to friends and family. Isolation makes people want to take their own life, especially anyone who is at their lowest in their career. Dealing with stress is not always simple but with good support and education on digital platforms and also the work done by many passionate writers who write to organizations seeking money to help those with mental health conditions for their treatment. Many organizations are also coming forward to address mental health literacy and suicide prevention.
There are many therapists who are making strides in offering treatment to those who seek treatment the general population and those and those celebrities who are in their crucial state of losing hope. Producers who are close to the entertainers are being trained on how to avert the crisis of helping their clients and colleagues deal with the social media hate and also stigma from their family members and other people.
A good therapist has a process of assessing if their clients are of good fit to step into the Hollywood scenes and the world entirely, they should couch them on how to deal with stress that can lead to relapse and often they give advice to their producers to take the entertainers back to therapy incase they start acting out.
Mental illness stories have been getting media coverage in recent times, but the entertainment industry’s relationship with mental health has long been complicated. Celebrities set an example for others, and when it comes to mental health, that example is often not a good one.
Efforts by the media
The media has suggested that the high rate of people taking their own lives in show business may be due to workaholism; lack of sleep; and grueling hours among other things. However, no studies have shown a causal link between these factors and people taking their own lives. Additionally, there is no strong evidence that individuals in show business are at higher risk of suicide than members of the public. A study done by Drexel University suggested that suicide rates were roughly similar between the show business community and the overall population across most age demographics.
Despite this, mental health remains a taboo topic in the entertainment industry. Many celebrities are reluctant to discuss their mental health struggles for fear of being judged or typecast. This is reflected in the media’s coverage of mental health. A study by the University of Pittsburgh showed that the media portrays people with mental illness in a negative light, often linking mental illness with violence. This can have a negative impact on people with mental illness, as they may feel ashamed or embarrassed to seek help.
Mental health is an important issue, and the entertainment industry has a responsibility to address it. By discussing mental health in a positive light, we can break down the barriers that prevent people from seeking help.
The entertainment industry is a very competitive field to get into, and it can be hard for those who don’t fit the typical mold. In addition to those pressures, there are those outside of the entertainment industry that place pressure on actors and other individuals working in show business. For example, many young actors have experienced bullying from their peers throughout their lives.
Bullying is a major problem that exists across all industries, but it can be particularly difficult for those working in entertainment. Bullying can not only make the work environment uncomfortable, but it may affect performers’ performance as well. Furthermore, bullying is an important factor when it comes to suicide among young people.
It is our hope that the recent media coverage on mental health will bring light to these issues so they can be addressed in order to ensure a healthy lifestyle for all. By taking Mental Health Awareness one step further by integrating it into society, we are paving the way for a better and brighter future.