Strategies to support wellness in entertainment

At the AAWE wellness forums conducted across the country at the end of last year, participants were asked to identify existing industry wellness initiatives, and if there were gaps in services, to recommend what's needed and prioritise need.  Preliminary findings from the AAWE forums has identified three key priorities: Education, Risk Management and Support.

Findings include:
•    Distinct lack of access to and/or awareness of professional mental health support for those who work in the entertainment industry
•    Strategies proposed to overcome some of the perceived barriers include:
          Training (embedded into existing education structures)
          Improved and accessible referral pathways that are tailored to roles and risk categories
          Mitigation of industry-specific risks such as substance use, isolation and burnout
          Reduction of stigma at an individual and organisation level
          Access to support groups or communities to create a sense of belonging
          Education for improved communication
          Support for access to services. 

As an industry we have identified that we can't tackle these issues in isolation. We need to support each other. 

At the AAWE Advisory Committee meeting held at the Sydney Opera House last month, industry leaders, were presented with the above preliminary findings and asked to consider "what strategies can we put in place as an industry to create change?".

Below is a summary of ideas discussed at the meeting.

  1. Pool resources. Collectively share experience, knowledge and cost. 
  2. Address stigma. eg. Introduce programs like 'Shame Resillience' by Dr Brene Brown; Self Reflections - practical resource for education and workplace environments.
  3. Mentoring. Draw on lived experience.
  4. Have the mental health conversation - the number of requests for Entertainment Assist's mental health info session is rapidly on the increase.
  5. Develop and share tip sheets. 
  6. Shift our messaging. As industry leaders we need to shift our messaging to include 'mental ill-health', 'mental health' and 'wellness' as part of our everyday vernacular. We need to ask “how do we help our people when they're unwell?” and “how do we help them believe they're unwell?”
  7. Develop a National Industry Standard for Wellness – to incorporate physical and mental wellbeing. This Standard would incorporate work already done around workplace safety plus Bullying & Harassment policies currently being drafted.
  8. Develop an awareness campaign or strategy that will start to shift the cultural landscape at individual, collective and structural levels.
  9. Create ‘safe’ workplaces. In general, our workplaces are not psychologically safe. What can we do to shift our thinking and policies to ensure we roll-out templates and examples that create 'safe' spaces? We currently undertake physical risk assessments of our workplaces.  We need to establish wellness risk assessments that also assess risks to mental wellbeing. These risk assessments/policies would form part of Industry Standard for Wellness.

The health and wellbeing of Australian entertainment industry professionals is our shared industry responsibility - as individuals and as a collective.  The time to take action is now.

Got ideas to share? We'd love to hear from you.