Arts & Entertainment

Acting and Mental Health: Anxiety and Stress in the Workplace

According to studies conducted by Australian Actors’ Wellbeing, performers, actors, and people working in the entertainment industry in general, are twice as likely to experience depression compared to people from other sectors. As of lately, a lot of famous entertainers, actors, singers, and directors succumb to despair.

Amy Winehouse, Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, and Anthony Bourdain. These are some of the celebrities that battled depression and lost. A lot of these performers suffers anxiety and high levels of stress from work-related pressures like job insecurity, personal or family problems, and low income.

Studies conducted over the years have acknowledged that people who are drawn working in the entertainment industry are highly vulnerable to anxiety and depression. But some factors contribute to getting stressed and anxiety specific to the entertainment industry.

These include engaging in deep emotions. It is required to express and access when they are playing a particular role or trying to show what they want to say using their platform. There are studies conducted into the stress incurred by students acting in drama schools.

Most acting instructors acknowledged that most of their students do not take space and time to separate themselves from the role that they are playing. It resulted in emotional stress and a hangover, which causes extreme mood swings and problems in their personal lives.

Although it is evident that the industry needs to do more to safeguard acting students, depression in the entertainment business is still a minor issue. Fortunately, some institutions give more importance to work-related stress and anxiety, and they are looking for solutions to address the artists’ wellbeing and mental health concerns.

Acting and Mental Health

Getting into character

Getting into a character for a role is not as simple as putting on makeup or wearing a mask where you can put it on when you use it and take it off when you don’t need it anymore. Playing a character is a very complicated process. Actors sometimes can’t distinguish between what is the role they are playing and what is real life.

There are times that actors can’t let go of the emotions that come with the character, just like what happened to Heath Ledger. Because of the emotions, he invested in playing The Joker in The Dark Knight; he developed anxiety and depression that ultimately lead to his death in 2008.

The emotions these actors experienced when they are in character will sometimes be carried over into their everyday living, which eventually can cause adverse effects in their personal life.

Some ways have been developed to help working actors detached from the characters they are playing; it is called “to-de-role.” Unfortunately, most acting students and established actors rarely use these techniques. Most actors headed to a bar for a drink after their performance to unwind.

 Personally, this is a bit dangerous because alcohol can increase the stress and anxiety actors are experiencing instead of helping them get rid of it.

(To know more about the psychological effect of methodical acting, visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_effects_of_method_acting.)

How to de-role

There are ways to cool down from a performance. Actors can join a feedback session with their cast members. It will involve sharing stories on how the performance has gone or participating in procedures like visualization, deep breathing or physical releases.

Other de-rolling methods include disrobing the character to consciously let go of the character and the costume. Creating post-performance closure cab help them leave the character they are playing in the dressing room.

Most acting teachers maintained that there is a lot to be done when it comes to assisting acting students to differentiate between their life in the entertainment industry and their life outside the stage. It would give the actors a healthier workplace, which could transfer into the acting profession.

Entertainment industry companies should pay attention

Because of the increase in anxiety and depression cases in the movie and theatre industry, entertainment companies are starting to establish groups and committee that tackle actors’ mental wellness. The aim is to educate everyone working in the industry, the actors, directors, even the people behind the camera, about the importance of mental health and wellbeing and providing help to people who are affected by it.

A lot of companies nowadays are hiring psychologists and psychiatrists to help people working in the industry cope up with mental issues. Hopefully, artists and people behind the scene will experience less stress and anxiety in the workplace, at the same time, provide the audiences with the performance of a lifetime.