Advice for Actors: Spotting Mental Distress

Charlotte Armitage, Film & TV Industry Psychologist and Managing Director of YAFTA and YAFTA Talent Agency, along with Mandy News are excited to bring a monthly advice column where Charlotte will answer questions from our Mandy members looking for help.

10th April 2019
/ By Staff Member

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In the light of Love Island star Mike Thalassitis's tragic death, this month we've decided to focus on what we can do as individuals and as an industry when our loved ones are in desperate need of support. 

The huge amount of media coverage over recent few weeks on the very tragic suicide of reality TV star, Mike Thalassitis will have no doubt affected many of you. This suicide seems to have shocked so many people, perhaps because he ‘looked’ ok, a good-looking man with a successful TV career building: why would a young man who seemingly had it all, decide to take his own life? 

However, this a prime example highlighting the fact that you can’t see mental distress. Just because someone may appear to have their life in check, doesn’t mean that they aren’t suffering significant distress emotionally. This is what mental health looks like, it is invisible, and people who are suffering naturally become skilled at hiding the behavioural signs of mental illness from those around them. 

So, what can we do as family and friends to help those needing our support? 

Look for behavioural changes: 

Is the person becoming withdrawn? This can be emotionally withdrawn such as not communicating with others as much, either face to face or by removing themselves from social media. They could also become socially withdrawn, not going out as much as normal and turning down offers of company with others. The opposite could be true too, they could start going out more, drinking more than usual, spending more money than usual or picking up other bad habits. If the behaviour of the individual deviates from their baseline level of functioning, then something is usually causing that, so reach out and check in with them.

Look for changes in communication: 

What does the person say? Are they making comments which seem out of character or that worry you? If they are and something doesn’t sit right with you, don’t ignore it, try to provide support for that person and perhaps help them to find help from an appropriately qualified professional.

Let people know that you are there to support them:

Mental health is still a bit of a taboo subject and someone who is suffering with suicidal thoughts or mental distress may feel too ashamed to admit it. Letting people know that you are there to offer a non-judgemental ear may make the difference between them feeling alone and isolated and them feeling like they have someone to turn to when they are ready to talk.

It’s important to remember that when people are suffering significantly with mental and emotional distress, they aren’t always in a position to help themselves so it’s really important for us to be aware of the signs and symptoms so that we can help our family and friends when they can’t help themselves. Reach in, don’t wait for them to reach out. 

Read our previous month's advice article by Charlotte Armitage.Charlotte Armitage is the Managing Director at Yorkshire Academy Of Film and Television Acting (YAFTA). She is also a psychologist and helps people in the film industry with mental health issues. Read our exclusive interview with Charlotte.