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Mental health and wellbeing takes centre stage for entertainment industry

Sole traders and small business operators come in all shapes and sizes. Arguably among the most dynamic, adaptive and creative types are those who work in the entertainment industry.

Each journey is different, but often for these sole operators, the path can be influenced by a range of factors.

Navigating everyday challenges and adverse events requires tailored support and an industry-led approach, according to national health promotion charity Entertainment Assist.

Entertainment Assist works on raising awareness and taking action around the mental health and wellbeing of individuals working in the Australian entertainment industry.

The Ahead for Business team invited Entertainment Assist General Manager Julia Edwards to sit down and share her insights on some of work underway to support entertainers and their mental health, especially during adverse events and periods of high stress such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Q: Thanks for having a chat to us Julia. What are some of the unique factors to consider when it comes to being a sole operator in the entertainment industry?

A: It’s no secret that the entertainment industry is often among the first to feel the impact when there is an adverse event, and with COVID-19 this has certainly been the case.

But it is important to remember that as sole operators, those who work in the entertainment industry are also among the most agile and responsive to both changing needs, sudden disruptions and new opportunities.

They are skilled at navigating challenging environmental factors, such as securing income over the short and long-term, responding to and adapting to gig economies, partnering and joining other operators to make the most of opportunities, and all of this is done outside of the regular 9-5 business hours.

To ensure they are well supported to navigate these challenging climates, good mental health and wellbeing is paramount. This is why it is, and should always be, a national priority.

Q: How have Entertainment Assist members responded when asked what they need when the industry is impacted by adverse events?

A: The feedback from many in the entertainment industry - whether they are actors, singers, producers, scriptwriters, videographers or performers - is that they need tailored support to keep their mental health and wellbeing on track.

Many are currently feeling overwhelmed, stressed and worried about financial security and due to monetary constraints, often don’t have the financial means to access professional support.

Due to the fluid nature of sole operator work in the entertainment industry, even minor variations in income can have a significant impact when it comes to adverse events.

I’m pleased to note that during COVID-19, financial support has been offered to those impacted, but it hasn’t been fast enough for some, and many sole operators who have had a steady supply of work for most of their lives are now finding themselves without work prospects for an unforeseen period ahead.

This can be incredibly challenging from a mental health and wellbeing perspective and Entertainment Assist is uniquely positioned to support those working in entertainment to look after themselves.

Q: How is Entertainment Assist supporting small business owners during COVID-19?

A: With many in the industry now finding themselves staying at home, they need 24/7 access to resources and it’s clear that traditional methods cannot provide that right now.

This is why we have launched a free series of webinars tackling the central areas impacting on sole operators within the entertainment industry at the moment.

This includes tackling key topics such as financial support, sleep and healthy habits to help those feeling impacted to establish routine, insight and practices around self-care, which will contribute to their mental health and wellbeing now and into the future.

Q: What are some of the resources those in the entertainment industry can access to support their mental health and wellbeing during this time?

A: There are a range of actions sole operators can take to support their mental health and wellbeing, some of these are simple such as:

  • Establishing healthy habits – make a plan for each day so you have goals to meet and a sense of achievement every day
  • Invest in creativity – invest and explore some of the projects you’ve put on hold
  • Exercise – find time for getting active each day
  • Financial support – reach out for financial assistance available, that is what it is there for and access the national debt helpline for assistance as well.

Other areas for support and information include: