Improving mental health in the creative industries

Why is the creative industry suffering from mental health problems, and what's the solution? We take a further look.

People in creative industries are more likely to suffer from greater mental health problems. In fact, they’re three times more likely.

But why is the creative industry suffering from mental health problems? Surely the people working in artistic, creative environments are living the dream? For some, that may be the case, but often creative people are more empathetic and likely to be in touch with their feelings. Those susceptible to mental health problems may be more naturally drawn to creative roles.

It’s also perhaps naïve to suggest those working in creative industries always have “the dream job”. Artistic roles involve meeting tough deadlines, working long and often unsociable hours and (for freelancers in particular) uncertainty around where the next job is coming from. It’s a high-pressured industry, yet people are still concerned that opening up and talking about their experiences may have a detrimental impact on their career.

Talking… and listening

Vocalising concerns and anxieties is the first step towards seeking help to improve your mental health.

For freelance creatives, feeling isolated is a major barrier to talking about mental health problems. Research networking events or online social groups for other people in your industry, so you can share ideas and discuss your struggles or anxieties. If you are struggling with your mental health, don’t be afraid to ask for advice or resources that may help. Other people will undoubtedly be in the same boat, and will be able to signpost you to websites or support networks that helped them.

It’s also helpful to practice active listening when someone else is discussing an important or personal topic. This is to ensure information is not missed, and the person talking feels respected. Pay very close attention to what the other person is saying, trying hard not to become distracted or lose focus. Repeat and summarise key points of information back, and ask open ended questions to draw the conversation out further. It’s most important to remember not to interrupt.

Accessing mental health support

Creative people might be known for being outgoing and sociable, but that doesn’t always mean they’re happy to open up about their own struggles. There are plenty of great resources out there, including Theatre Means Business, digital health and wellbeing learning resources for people working in off-stage creative roles. ArtsMinds also provides invaluable resources for creative practitioners across various wellbeing pillars. So, whatever is triggering a potential mental health problem, you can find further advice and support to help you handle it.

Mental health post-COVID

Quite frankly we have no idea how the coronavirus pandemic will impact the creative industry in the short and long term. We don’t yet have the research and  facts we need to in order to make a clear judgement as to how this will affect the mental health of our people.

But, chances are, the outlook won’t be great. The latest UK Creative Industries report suggests over 400,000 creative jobs within the UK could be lost. That’s one in five. The longer lockdown lasts, the worse the situation will be as theatres and other live entertainment venues continue to lose billions in revenue each week.

Supporting your team through this challenging period and beyond is key, particularly as the industry desperately awaits the green light to get back to work.

Your team may not be physically together, but you are still able to check in and support one another at a distance. Find out what your employees’ concerns are regarding returning to work, and what areas of wellbeing they would most like to find out more about. That way, when the time comes, you’re in the best possible position to help your team adjust and thrive when your doors reopen.

How we’re helping

Booking Protect has partnered with We Are Wellbeing to provide a free wellbeing package for new and existing customers. This will give employees within the creative industry the tools they need to look after their own wellbeing while the creative industry is still in lockdown.

The industry will bounce back. But while these challenging times continue it’s more important than ever to be aware of our mental health and the mental health of those around us.