One of the most extensive study of entertainment industry workers undertaken anywhere in the world, Working in the Australian Entertainment Industry (2016) by Victoria University and commissioned by Entertainment Assist uncovered serious health and wellbeing concerns for arts workers.
The recommendations made in the report have actively contributed to the development of the Arts Wellbeing Collective Pilot Program. The Arts Wellbeing Collective is based at the Victorian Arts Centre and assists artists with the problems identified by the report. The Arts Wellbeing Collective homepage
Good psychological treatment and support for mental health issues and for promoting wellbeing and general flourishing in life, isn’t about ironing out the kinks and/or getting rid of the idiosyncrasies that give each of us our unique voice. It’s about helping each of us harness what is inside us in a constructive way so that we can be productive and creative, empathetic and contributive; unfettered in our creativity.
I’ve been in places in my life where I couldn’t imagine living into the future, where composing and performing music and writing prose helped me on the one hand, but was limited in compositional themes and potential by this veil of anxious self-destructiveness. I saw my state of being as a reality, a truth, which wasn’t open to change. For me, it took a positive psychological approach to realise that I could let go of the self-destructiveness and the fear, whilst holding onto the creativity and, fundamentally, myself. I still find immense catharsis – as well as great joy and satisfaction – in creative expression, but now for mental health I use techniques like mindfulness meditation too. None of us are so very far away from needing a helping hand, and most of us will either grapple with mental health issues personally or have someone close to us do so, at sometime in our life.
The part of me that gave rise to those challenging years will always live inside me, but now it’s a resource I use for empathy, for creative expression, and helping others. I feed that part of me with self-compassion rather than its old diet of disgust and disdain. I incline towards it with affection and acceptance now, which a few years ago would have seemed unimaginable! These changes have spilled over into lifestyle choices, including sleep, exercise, and diet. Empirical research from the field of positive psychology has demonstrated the power of embracing vulnerability, and the efficacy of using acceptance, gratitude, and savouring (among others) as part of helping maintain positive mental health and flourishing. There’s a very large amount of empirical research from fields including neuroscience, psychology and medicine about the mental and physical benefits of mindfulness practice too.
The Arts Wellbeing Collective Pilot Program is aimed at providing some of the tools from the field of psychology, as well as inspiring a sense that good mental health and taking care of your wellbeing is so worthwhile in the performing arts environment, which is pretty unique in a number of ways. The Arts Wellbeing Collective program is about liberating the flourishing individual within each of us, enabling each of us to fulfil our potential personally, professionally and creatively (be it with sound and lighting, on the stage, or any other role that is part of the performing arts industry!). Over the past few years, I’ve been privileged enough to work with performing arts workers on psychological issues. Having training both as a psychologist and as a performer, I am passionate about allowing each field to inform the other in my work. I am really looking forward to being part of the Arts Wellbeing Collective Pilot Program!
Greta Bradman Provision Psychologist Performing Artist
October 2016, uploaded October 10, 2018