Mental Health In The Creative Industry
Mental health is a growing challenge for many people. The number of mental health related prescriptions is increasing, the number of diagnoses are increasing, and our awareness of it as an overall health issue is on the rise.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s become any easier to talk about. It doesn’t mean that we’re addressing its origins and sources or that the solution is there for us to simply ‘purchase’. At work (highly likely to be one of the causes — especially in the creative industry) it affects everything from performance to working relationships. More importantly, it doesn’t just stay in the workplace, it can affect home and family life as well.
In a factory, businesses are supposed to put everything they can into keeping their workplace safe for the people who work there. They don’t want people cutting things off, breaking things and not being able to use their limbs to do their job.
As an industry we expect people to use their brains to solve problems, imagine solutions and inspire each other. So it makes sense that we do everything we can to help keep them in working order, if not tip-top shape. The less efficient your brain, the longer it takes to do something, the harder it is to ‘be creative’ and as a result, the longer the hours you work. The worse you feel, until your brain just runs out of steam and turns into a deflated, dehydrated, empty blob. Ok that’s extreme, and this is no trivial matter, but it helps to visualise these things.
What are we trying to do about mental health in the creative industry?
First of all, we’re actively looking to collaborate with people and organisations already in this space. Our first collaboration is with Everymind, who are already doing research into the causes and affects of working culture, conditions and environments with small businesses.
We will also be looking to collaborate on policies for creative businesses through a shared resource like Google Drive. Here’s a very early draft that you’re welcome to take, adapt, feedback on. We’d love if the community would share other examples or practices that you’ve found or experienced that could benefit others.
We have a big ambition to set up a mental health fund to help creatives. We’re actively investigating how to work with creative businesses, not for profit or financial organisations on how to make this happen. If you’re interested in this, then please get in touch.
We’d like to promote much healthier wellbeing as part of work. Personally, I’ve been on my own rollercoaster journey with mental and physical health, and while everyone is unique in what works for them, there’s no doubt that a balance of diet, exercise, and the ability to find meaning in what you do for 8 hours (or more) everyday can do way more good than harm.
What can you do?
Share your own experiences. Write an article and submit it to this publication, or start a discussion over in our Facebook group.
Keep an eye out for each other. When I first talked about my own challenges with mental health, I got a very mixed reaction. People came out of the woodwork and wanted to actively talk to me about it, and how they’d experienced similar. Others, including some that I was very close to, completely ignored what I’d shared — as if they weren’t in the room or weren’t aware. It is soooooo hard to talk about this stuff. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. If you see someone struggling, just take them out. Go for a walk, a coffee, a beer, a wine. You don’t have to confront them, or ask them if they’re ok. You can mention that you thought they seemed a bit down, or you can just have a chat. They’ll know you’re there for them, and that over time is going to help.
Keep an eye out for yourself. It’s hard to know when you’re not at your best. Are you struggling to get up in the morning? Are you dreading going to work? Are you finding it really hard to be creative? They’re all small signs that you might need a break. You might need a complete change. You might need a holiday. You might just need to write the day off and start again tomorrow.
Of course, there are lots of places you can go if things are much worse than this. Here are some resources we’ve found and used in the past.
Whatever you choose from the above. Let’s all try and do something to make the industry around us a better place, so we can all be Never Not Creative.