Tough times on the road for entertainment industry workers

Mar 31, 2015

Beyond the glamour and bright lights poor working conditions are having an impact on the mental health of performers and 'roadies', according to a new study.

According to recent research by Victoria University, the Australian entertainment industry's 25,000-strong workforce experience significantly higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance use and suicide than the general population.

One in three performing artists interviewed for the study said they had sought professional support for mental health conditions, while a quarter had attempted suicide or experienced suicidal thoughts. While more than half the roadies and equipment operators involved in the research had considered suicide or had suicidal thoughts, none had sought support. 

The study found that while people share a deep passion for their profession, they often struggle in a working environment and culture that is "unhealthy, often divisive, competitive, and lacking social support." 

"One of the things that came through pretty clearly in our work, through some very detailed and systematic interviews, was an unhealthy work environment throughout all aspects of the entertainment industry," said Professor Adrian Fisher, who co-led the study. "There are clear patterns of suicide, of suicide ideation and thoughts, especially for performers whose careers are in decline, and as a result of the professional and financial pressures that exist. It is an area we are worried about and need to research further."

Recommendations from the study include:

  • Ensuring entertainment workers have access to information about their rights relating to mental health in the workplace and how to seek support.
  • Tailoring prevention strategies for workers' specific needs.
  • Linking with existing community mental health clinics to provide specific support for entertainment industry workers.
  • Strengthening social support by drawing on a collective sense of pride, passion and commitment. 

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