CW: This article discusses topics of mental illness
The pressures of the creative industries run high, and comparison frequently results in rejections or failure. Creative industry jobs are often pursued by passion and doing a job that you love, however, the uncertainty that comes with this adds to the increased distress.
The typical outdated stereotype of a depressed artist trying to express feelings through painting, poetry and fashion. Often creativity becomes an outlet for designers and artists to produce deep and meaningful work. However, this stereotype overlooks the true need for mental health support within creative industries.
Research by the well-being charity, Inspire and Ulster University showed that people working within the creative industry are three times more likely to suffer from mental illness than other professionals. Anxiety (36%) and depression (36%) were the most commonly diagnosed disorders (32%)
"There might be a popular image of the struggling artist but that becomes a much less romantic notion when it crosses a line into making people mentally unwell”
- Commenting on the motivation behind the research Peter McBride, CEO of Inspire
Pain, experiences, and feelings have traditionally inspired creative ideas and designs. Although this results in strong work, it can also be detrimental to the creatives. Sixty percent of those polled have considered suicide. We should not turn a blind eye to this suffering.
So why is this?
The creative industry is generally associated with irregular work, resulting in unstable finances and increased worries. Alongside this, it is common to not be paid on time, forcing you to chase down payment for your hard work.
This sector's personality types also generate pressure and negative thoughts about themselves and their work, resulting in exceptionally high standards for themselves both internally and externally.
The work you create is quite often personal. Your ideas have gone through a lengthy development process to feel finalised and polished. They come from the heart, and criticising them cuts deeper.
To face the diverse opinions of the subjective type of work produced, a tough skin is necessary.
In today's world of new technologies and challenges, there is even more pressure to come up with new and original ideas that will blow away and outshine competitors. This is an unfair challenge because being 'original' in this sector is nearly impossible.
The increased job pressure caused by Covid 19 has caused panic in the industry. As well as increased anxiety and depressive thoughts. Jobs in the industry are few and far between, and the competition and multiple rejections that newcomers face lead to negative thoughts and severe self-doubt.
Changing one's way of thinking will not be easy or quick. However, I believe it is necessary to reduce the pressures we are putting on the creative industries.
Creating an effective support system to allow individuals to relax and take time away from work, is often impossible due to long work hours and a self-absorbed career. It is difficult to turn off the mind when the world around us influences our creative outputs.
Management and leadership in businesses, as well as being self-employed, are difficult. This lack of direction and structure may also contribute to the 'lost' feelings experienced by those working in the industry.
There is a need for a general understanding that the challenges of unpaid, irregular work for people in this industry and this will not be tolerated as it has a negative impact on mental health. Change is necessary to make sure that the valued work of anyone, small or large, beginner or expert, is paid on time and that contracts are followed.
Creativity is closely linked to psychology and the understanding of people; in this case, it comes in handy to help improve the mental health of those in the creative industries. Using psychology and psychotherapy treatments in this sector could be extremely beneficial. Personality types in the industry are often self-aware and in touch with their emotions. Creating healthy work environments has the potential to significantly reduce the mental struggles associated with creative work.
“Those who work in the creative sector make an important, varied contribution to our society; these findings show we need to pay more attention to their health and wellbeing. If we value the creative industries and enjoy music, film and TV, art, writing, and other important creative outputs, we need to act and help support those who produce it.”