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  • Writer's picturekirstiewright

Mental Health in the Creative Industry: Where are we now?

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

World Mental Health Day is the perfect chance to reflect on how the creative industries are supporting the wellbeing of those who work within the creative industries. World Mental Health Day encourages people around the world to talk about mental health so that individuals, organisation, and Governments continue to aim to improve people’s wellbeing.

This year’s theme for World Mental Health Day is Mental health is a universal human right.

What does this mean?

  1. Everyone has the right to be protected from risks to mental health.

  2. Everyone has the right to good, accessible mental health care.

  3. Everyone has the right to be included in the community.

Too many people experience discrimination based on mental health difficulties or are excluded because of their mental health difficulties.

We know that mental health difficulties are higher in the creative industries than the average population. Please find a link to a study that demonstrates this here. We also know that there have been high levels of reported discrimination and exclusion of different groups of people in the creative industries. Many risks to mental health, including isolation (working away from home for long periods of time), changing deadlines and period of lots of work followed by periods of no work are often commonplace within the creative industries.

mental health creative indsutries

This suggests that change is still needed to improve mental health within the creative industries. So how can we start to improve mental health in the creative industries?

TALK! as much as you feel comfortable to do so. But how does talking help? I promise talking does change things. Give me a chance I will explain!

If we talk about our experiences of our own mental health, check in on how other people are doing, talk about mental health when designing projects, we normalise talking about mental health in the creative industries. This helps everyone to know its ok to not be ok all the time which can reduce the burden to feel good when you don’t.

mental health creative

Talking about mental health reduces stigma of mental health difficulties. This encourages people to seek support without fearing being judged or shamed for doing so. This also reduces shame which in turn improves wellbeing as shame has been linked to various mental health difficulties including depression.

Talking raises awareness of what wellbeing is and what different mental health difficulties look like. This can in turn help you to know when to seek support and when others need support. This is invaluable as it means people are no longer suffering in silence.

wellbeing mental health in creative industries

Talking about mental health often helps people to access support. Conversations about our mental health normally lead to people to look at what support is out there. This support can look different depending what is needed but could include going to your GP, seeking therapy, helplines or accessing information on mental health difficulties.

Talking in of itself can help reduce distressing emotions. The phrase of ‘A problem shared is a problem halved’ can be true! I am sure you have had an experience where once you have shared how you feel you feel lighter even when the problem or issue has not been solved.

Talking about mental health difficulties can help people who have had these experiences feel seen and heard. It can be reassuring to know you are not alone and that other people are having this experience.

talking about mental health in the creative industries

Talking about mental health helps educate people and organisations. This knowledge can then be used in many ways including helping people identify mental health difficulties in themselves or others, seeking support, signposting others to gain support and implementing changes within organisation or across industries.

Sharing your story can be empowering. It gives you power over the narrative of your experiences.

Talking about mental health can improve relationships by increasing peoples understanding of other people’s experiences and fostering empathy. This helps both personal relationships and relationships at work. It can help people be mindful about any adaptations needed at work.

talking about mental health in the creative industries

Regular discussions about mental health difficulties can lead to the early identification of, mental health difficulties. Early intervention prevents difficulties worsening and therefore can improve mental health within the creative industries.

Talking about mental health difficulties can lead to people advocating for better support for mental health difficulties and better prevention within the creative field. This can lead to changes in creative workplaces, policies and how we treat each other which have a positive impact on mental health and can start to change the culture within the creative industries.

Hopefully by now you are convinced that talking about mental health is a key step towards improving mental health within the creative industries.

But we need to do more than talking, don’t we?

Yes, we do but as you can see from above talking goes a long way to helping to change wellbeing in the creative industries. Below are some ideas of actions that can be carried out that improve wellbeing.

actions to improve mental health in the creative industries.

When Creating Projects discuss wellbeing in the planning. This is an example of how talking can lead to action. Include risks to mental health in the risk assessment (just as you would physical health) and take what steps you can to mitigate these risks. Ensure you have how people can gain support for their mental health on call sheets etc. This will start to improve mental health within all of the creative disciplines.

Think about what you do that might indirectly exclude people, for example do you always arrange socials in the pub when not everyone drinks alcohol. Ask yourself how can we in the creative field be more inclusive?

Here is a link to a blog post that focuses on tips to improve mental health within the film industry. Many of these tips can also be applied to other creative industries.

In the creative industries we need to make changes to improve mental health. Sometimes it can feel that we can’t do much at a grass roots level but conversations and what can on the surface like small actions start change.

If you would like training for your organisation on how to implement the above steps and improve wellbeing do not hesitate to contact us. Equally if you would like therapy with a therapist who understand the nuances of working with the industry do not hesitate to contact us.

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