In the last decade, more importance has been given to mental health. Charities, non-profits and campaigns have been started around the world as we as a society begin to recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health.
Usually at the forefront of movements, the entertainment industry appears to be in catch-up mode, as stark revelations from surveys and personal anecdotes reveal a sometimes unwelcoming environment for mental health. According to several studies, people who work in the performing arts are twice as likely to experience depression than the general population.
Zac Efron, in a Men’s Health October 2022 cover story interview, revealed how his diet and physical fitness for the 2017 film Baywatch hurt his mental health as he tried to compete physically with Dwayne Johnson.
“I started to develop insomnia,” Efron said, “and I fell into a really bad depression for a long time. Something about that experience burned me out. I had a really hard time recuperating.” Ultimately, he chalked it up to taking too many diuretics for too long, and it messed something up. “That Baywatch look, I don’t know if it’s actually achievable,” he said. There is still very little water in the skin. Like, it’s fake; It looks CGI’d. And achieving this required Lasix, a powerful diuretic. That’s why I don’t need to do that. I prefer to have an extra, you know, 2 to 3 percent body fat.
Efron took a break from acting six months after it wrapped and moved to live in Australia around the start of the pandemic. Hollywood is littered with stories of acting talent being pushed physically or mentally and often not being supported around the potential mental effects of a project or situation.
It’s not just acting roles that can impress actors. They don’t even have it, especially in the current climate. Artists are usually kept out to dry for long periods, usually working on short contracts. It was worse during the pandemic, as the lockdown devastated the industry. Now, after the pandemic, it is facing massive inflation and cost of living crisis.
The UK Film & TV charity aims to help with this through a partnership with MoneyHelper which includes tools such as a budget planner and savings calculator for both cast and back-end crew/staff. They are also offering a 24/7 helpline for mental health support and stop-gap grants to prevent industry workers from falling into impoverished conditions.
Alex Pumphrey, CEO of the Film & TV charity, said: “With the rising cost of living and rising energy bills causing serious concern, we want to make sure everyone in the TV and film industry has access to the best advice and guidance possible “
“Our new financial tools are no magic bullet for the cost of living crisis, but they do provide a greater ability to plan and manage finances and ultimately strengthen resilience… We really hope That people working in film, TV and cinema can feel supported financially, emotionally and practically during this incredibly difficult period.
Speaking with veteran actor Blake Webb, who has guest starred on Criminal Minds, NCIS, 13 Reasons Why, American Horror Story, Good Trouble and The Rookie, among others; He believes a healthy mindset is important, as well as industry protocols enacted by unions, agents, studios and the actors themselves.
“I struggled with severe depression and anxiety in Los Angeles, and luckily overcame it through 4 years of therapy,” he said. “My depression started in 2017: I often compared myself to other actors, I over-analyzed my auditions, and I tried impossible to control the outcome — I became miserable. I didn’t have balance, because my My whole life was trying to get the next acting gig. Through continued therapy, I’ve been able to learn how my mind works, acquire healthier habits, and learn to be more present.”
Blake said: “I am fortunate to have recovered from a depression that could have reached a much more dire point. I am now more grateful for my career, realizing that it is important to live a balanced and fulfilling life.” That’s life. I’ve become a mental health advocate; I love psychology books, inspiring others to chase their dreams, and being transparent about my battle with depression.
Webb has drawn one of his greatest breakthroughs on depression from understanding what you can and cannot control, and most importantly, being at peace with it.
“One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was rejection; Learning I have no control over all outcomes, no matter my talent or hard work. I moved to Los Angeles when I was 30, which is considered very old by most people, but I never wanted to feel confined because of that. However, factors such as connections, height, weight, hair colour, skin tone and voice – all go into the booking. Most are things we cannot control.
“I worked very hard: keeping fit, taking lots of classes and casting workshops, getting headshots and auditioning, all while working full-time in graphic design to fund it all. , I had to learn to balance my life better. I wasn’t socializing; I put life on hold and all my energy went into acting. Eventually, it created an imbalance that led to panic attacks and depression while I ignored the success I was experiencing. I had to learn to focus my mind on what was in my control, to not make myself suffer, to enjoy life, date , travel, and most importantly, live — while pursuing this difficult career, she concluded.
Webb, as do many others, lists therapy as a big element that helped him understand his imaginative mind. As times get tough due to our financial climate, it is important that no matter where you are in the entertainment industry, you take care of yourself and others. There is nothing to be ashamed of in finding a professional to talk to. Hopefully, the entertainment industry can continue to seek ways to provide mental health options to those suffering in silence.