Canadian Musician - January/February 2023 - Page 41

All humans require physical , psychological , emotional , and spiritual balance and a sense of belonging and community . We need those things wherever we are . Because work is an integral part of what we do and who we are , enabling health and well-being in the workplace is even more critical . Industry technicians often describe their job as one of their most self-identifying attributes . Being part of the community is a deep part of who they are as individuals . We must remember all the good that comes from working in the music industry . People join it because they love music and want to be part of the experience .
We can see the path to better mental health and well-being as preventive and proactive , not just reactive . Even more important than materialistic terms , equality and equity come when an individual feels valued as a person . Full stop . When people have a sense of belonging , or “ perceived social support ,” they feel valued in a community ; they have courage and belief in their strengths and potentiality . This flourishes in an environment based on mutual respect , agency , and trust . The individual and the collective are interdependent and interconnected , always . The health of one is based on the health of the other .
A 2019 U . K . study by Dr . Paul Hanna gathered feedback from 1,302 people working in lighting , audio , backstage , and other show crew teams . It reported that mental health concerns are more prevalent in the technical backstage entertainment industry ( 58.7 %) than in the general population ( 25 %) and that working conditions are considered to contribute to sub-optimal well-being . The study also reinforced the stigma associated with mental health in the industry . Most respondents shared that they had experienced stigma about their mental health or that negative attitudes about it prevented people from asking for and receiving support . Social stigma remains one of the most significant barriers to well-being , including self-stigma and concern of being ostracized by family and friends or not feeling safe to seek help . Of the respondents who sought and received mental health support , they did so through governmental or private healthcare resources , not industry-specific services , primarily due to a lack of awareness that such programs exist . The study suggested that the best way to support mental health in the industry was through increased awareness , openness to dialogue , education , and access to help . Enabling self-efficacy and preventative health practices were key areas to invest in . And this was all pre-COVID ! These issues are global , and we ’ re all in it together .
Kayleigh Truman published a significant research paper in 2021 about the everyday experiences of stress and distress within the technical support community . Truman is a working stagehand in New York City , Local One , IATSE ( The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees ) and holds a master ’ s degree in labour . As they cited , approximately 95 % of the entertainment industry was shut down when COVID-19 hit , bringing an abrupt halt to work , income , and a sense of self and community . Although the live music industry is known for its turbulent working conditions , especially for behind-the-scenes technicians and roadies , the pandemic brought it to a new level . Truman surveyed 271 stagehands based in New York City for their study . Results of the study showed that although there were standard reports of stress and financial concerns during the pandemic , 23 % of respondents actually reported a greater sense of overall health and mental health during the shutdown . That is because , these respondents said , during the shutdown , they could invest time and energy into better sleep hygiene , healthy eating , activity habits , spending time with loved ones , and engaging in other community activities . For multiple respondents , it was the first time in
decades , if not their adult lives , that they could make medical appointments without fear of cancelling work . However , most respondents reported higher levels of stress , anxiety , and concern , especially concerning losing a sense of self and feeling lonely . They didn ’ t know what to do with their time , worried about diminished physical strength and capability to do the job once the pandemic was over , and generally experienced lower psychological and physical wellness levels .
Overall , 65.8 % of respondents reported feeling neutral or struggling during the pandemic , and 47 % reported feeling worse or somewhat worse than before the pandemic shutdown . These data expose the variety of experiences people can have depending on other support factors . Chronic stress can become psychological distress , which includes “ generalized anxiety , burnout , and depressive symptoms .”
According to Jeordie Shenton , Tonic Rider Coordinator and Ph . D . researcher in the U . K ., one of the most significant opportunities for change is “ to recognize that everyone has
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PHOTO : EVIE MAYNES PHOTO : MICHAEL RAINE