Home Coronavirus Over a third of backstage freelancers have mental health worries

Over a third of backstage freelancers have mental health worries

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Theater lighting technician electric engineer adjusting focus of lighting elements backstage. Spotlights in the theater. Behind the scene

According to a new study, more than a third of freelancers working backstage in the UK’s theatre industry report struggling with their mental health. The findings come amid growing concerns about the availability of mental health services for theatre workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The UK Backstage Mental Health Evaluation 2021 surveyed a total of 1,234 UK theatre workers, including freelancers, PAYE staff, students and managers. The results showed that 38 per cent of freelance respondents reported having a mental health condition – a slightly higher figure than for PAYE workers (33 per cent).

While 85 per cent of respondents who reported having a mental health condition said that it pre-dated the pandemic, 83 per cent of those with pre-existing mental health problems said that COVID-19 had made it worse, while three quarters of all staff surveyed said COVID-19 had negatively affected their mental health.

Other key findings include that more than half of respondents (51 per cent) were considering quitting their backstage job, while 68 per cent felt that current mental health and wellbeing support was inadequate.

The survey was conducted by Mig Burgess-Walsh, chair of the Alliance of Associations and Professionals in Theatre and Live Events’ Wellbeing Working Group, who commented: “Our industry has a higher-than-national-average prevalence of mental health conditions. We also seem to attract workers with pre-existing conditions.”

“The pandemic hasn’t created more mental health illness in our workforce, but overall it has had a big impact on everyone in the workforce, regardless of whether they have a formal mental health condition or not.”

Burgess-Walsh added that the survey’s results “give us clear evidence and statistics that more needs to be done not only to acknowledge mental health needs, but also to consider and make active plans for well-being in this industry.”

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