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Mental health “serious concern” in Australian biz

A study by VU reveals alarming statistics about the state of mind of Australia's entertainment industry, including high rates of depression and suicidal ideation

By IQ on 14 Feb 2017

Man Sitting Sad Depressed Mask Face Unhappy

Australia has become the latest country to issue a report highlighting the poor mental health of many of those working in its live entertainment business.

Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry: Final Report, commissioned by charity Entertainment Assist and authored by Julie van den Eynde, Adrian Fisher and Chris Sonn of Victoria University, follows similar studies in Britain and Norway and comes amid growing awareness of the prevalence of depression, anxiety and other psychiatric problems among music-industry professionals worldwide.

For the report, the university surveyed 2,904 people working in the Australian entertainment industry, including musicians, venue staff, stage managers, sound engineers and roadies.

Among its findings are that:

  • Suicide attempts for Australian entertainment industry workers are more than double that of the general population
  • The levels of moderate to severe anxiety symptoms are 10 times higher than in the general population
  • The levels of depression symptoms are five times higher than in the general population
  • In the last 12 months, Australian entertainment industry workers experienced suicide ideation five to seven times more than the general population and two to three times more over a lifetime
  • In the last 12 months, road crew members experienced suicidal ideation almost nine times more than the general population
  • Rates of suicide ideation, planning and attempts are extremely high and indicate a need for early intervention programs tailored to the industry

The study also highlights that, despite an “overwhelming passion for their creative work”, those working in the Australian entertainment industry do so in a “powerful, negative culture” that frequently includes a “toxic, bruising work environment; extreme competition; bullying; sexual assault; sexism; and racism”.

“These findings strongly suggest the entertainment and cultural industry is in severe distress, and in urgent need of early prevention and intervention programmes to reduce the impacts of those with health and wellbeing problems and to prevent new occurrences,” says Dr Fisher, head of psychology at Victoria University’s College of Arts.

Entertainment Assist says it will use the report’s findings to “advocate for generational change”. Specific measures include the provision of tailored mental health training; educating those working in the industry to take care of themselves and support their peers; and encouraging employers to actively support the mental health and wellbeing of employees.

Michael Chugg last year became the first promoter to sign up to the Australian Road Crew Associations ‘roadies’ fund’, pledging 5¢ on every ticket sold to help “roadies in crisis”.

 


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