Facebook Live: Coping with your Mental Health in 2020

Working in the creative industries can be hugely rewarding for many professionals across the sector, but it can also be incredibly taxing, especially in the current climate. As the world battles a pandemic and our industry slowly begins to get back on its feet, the day-to-day realities for many have been difficult to adjust to. Taking the time to understand and care for your mental health, and those around you, is vital in these times.

We endeavour to ensure our members feel supported and, with this in mind, we hosted a Facebook Live session with two renowned professionals in the industry: Dr Tamara, who is connected with the British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) and Mig Burgess, a Trustee for the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT)! Our discussion centred on mental health in the creative industries, recognising the signs of problems and the methods you can adopt to ensure your mental wellbeing is taken care of, as well as the support that is available to you. You can check out our session below!

Our panel highlighted how they are noticing changes in themselves and in the general population over the last few months. There are countless ways you can help your mental health, and they drew attention to just a few ways in which you can do this:

Dr Tamara: "There has definitely been a rise in people experiencing anxiety and a sense of loneliness in this climate. The lack of routine and people being unable to work and earn an income has definitely impacted this, not to mention productions are not happening. I think this pandemic has induced a lot of fear and concern in the population.

Dr Tamara: "To help improve your mental health, I would suggest you do a daily self check in: “How am I feeling?”, “What are my current emotions?”. You can then plan how you can address your situation around this.

Dr Tamara: "Even if you aren’t able to communicate physically with your friends and family, I do think we should communicate virtually. Consider having a buddy system, especially if you're going through something. Have a particular friend or family member and ask them if you can contact them if you at some point are feeling a certain way.

Mig Burgess: "To spend time focusing on my mental health, I feel like there's nothing I haven't tried in this period. I struggle with mindfulness, but you must persevere. The mental health nurse I see regularly noticed I wasn't doing well with the traditional methods of mindfulness, so he suggested going for a walk and picking out all things that are blue. At that point, you're not ruminating or procrastinating about things going on in your head, you are focussing on things that are blue in your surroundings.

Mig Burgess: "I value going for a run, and I can say that the release of endorphins does actually work. I believe that during the time I wasn't medicated, with the natural release of endorphins I experienced, I treated running and exercise like my medicine.

We would like to extend a huge thank you to all those who tuned in to our Facebook Live! A huge thanks is also in order to our panel. They offered incredible insight into how you can develop methods that support your mental health and that of your loved ones, as well as the support that is available to you.

Dr Tamara is a GP and health coach with a special interest in mental health, lifestyle medicine and the performing arts. She holds a free clinic at British Association of Performing Arts Medicine (BAPAM) for professional and student creative practitioners and is a member of the BAPAM Medical Committee. BAPAM is a specialist healthcare charity improving health in the performing arts by providing free clinical services, expert training and clinical leadership to individuals and organisations across the UK.

    Mig Burgess is the BA Theatre Production course leader at The Guildford School of Acting, while also working as a freelance production lighting professional and lighting designer. Mig is also a trustee council member of the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), which is a membership organisation in theatre and live performance and they set and uphold standards in technical excellence, safety and compliance.