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On and off the stage... mental health

With years in the world of entertainment as an actor and dancer, I have had my own personal and professional share of industry stress.


While being creative can be freeing, fun, healing, and exciting, it can also be stress filled, triggering, and exhausting.


There is pressure to perform, coupled with the intense impacts of social media that have affected recent generations of performers, entertainers and creatives in ways that those 10, 20, 30 years ago were not impacted.

There are new strains of toxic emotional and mental impacts due to increased access to everyone's lives and media information that can cause anxiety, depression, and other cognitive related conditions.



 


The World Health Organization reports suicide as the 4th leading cause of death for those between ages 15-29. Considering that children as young as 3 years old have active ongoing roles in film and continue an acting career well into their teens and adult years, the exposure to the pressures increase and can be detrimental without the proper supports and care.


Here are a few tips for film industry workers to enhance oversight, support, and care for the mental well-being of their talent and themselves.


(Adopted from World Health Organization)

  1. Include characters and narratives displaying resilience and effective ways of dealing with problems

  2. Outline how to obtain help from support services

  3. Show the potential positive value of support from friends, family and others

  4. Avoid depicting the act or method of suicide

  5. Base storylines on real life

  6. Include potential warning signs of suicide and how to cope with them

  7. Use appropriate language

  8. Display the complexity and wider issues associated with suicide

  9. Consult suicide prevention and communications experts, mental health professionals and persons with lived experience

  10. Consider including a content advisory message prior to the beginning of cinematic, televised, streamed or theatrical content

  11. Consider the impact of the portrayal of suicide on those working on stage and screen productions

  12. Provide parental guidance for content aimed at viewers under 18 years of age

  13. Consider the impact of the portrayal of suicide on those working on stage and screen productions





REFLECTION: As a performing artist, what has been the most challenging part for you in being able to maintain healthy, well-rounded mental wellness?

What do you wish those you work with and for did differently to support your overall well-being?

What do you/can you do to ensure that your mental and emotional health is priority for you and those around you?





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