I am sitting in bed, attempting to piece together the most appropriate series of words. Really, I made a number of attempts prior to world Mental Health Day to share this blog. Ultimately, I ended up actually writing this on October 12th at 5:00 am and it’s titled ‘Address Mental Health In The Entertainment Industry.’
Many may be wondering about the link between Mental Health and Public Relations. For me, there is a link between mental health and everything. In my professional capacity as a publicist, I have witnessed quite a few breakdowns and that includes myself.
A few years ago, I made frequent visits to the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital. It’s located in St Ann’s, Port of Spain, Trinidad. Don’t be alarmed, it was because my mom worked in the dietary department. I’ll tell you one of the things that scared me the most during the visits. It was the fact that on many occasions I was unable to decipher patients, visitors and in some instances employees. The lesson I took away is that not all persons battling with mental issues are easily identifiable. Ain’t that the truth!!
To share or not to?
Now, as you may know, or maybe learning now, I work in the entertainment industry. Truthfully, I am always concerned about the mental and emotional well-being of my clients. There are clients who have expressed to me from the jump that they have issues with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder etc. Knowing this assisted me in being able to perform my tasks more efficiently in some instances. Admittedly, it also frustrated me.
Recently, other creatives who function in the entertainment industry shared their struggles with me. I was in absolute shock. These are people who are not particularly on stage; songwriters, producers, photographers, designers, and journalists. One common issue they all shared was their inability to share their issues with others. There is a level of pride associated with admitting “I do not feel well today”, “I am struggling with some issues” or “I need help.” I was not surprised though because I had the same issue recently. For me, I figured that someone like me should not be facing these issues. I asked myself, how could someone responsible for making sure that everything is great for everyone else not be great?
The reality is that we are all human. When I decided to open up to a close friend she said to me, “Girl don’t worry you are not losing your mind.” She is one of the strongest and most badass women that I know and she shared that she dealt with similar issues and even more. Next up was sharing it with my mom who did not grasp what I was saying immediately but she got it eventually. Then there was my significant other, who suspected for some time that something was wrong and would have often asked: “Baby are you okay?” My responses to him were always the untruthful, “yes.”
I have witnessed instances where persons in the spotlight have been mocked, belittled and ridiculed for what many consider “strange behaviour.” Before joking around there are genuine instances of people breaking down right in front of us. To begin with, there is nothing really funny about anyone experiencing extreme embarrassment on stage or in public. Trust me, I am not uptight and I have a great sense of humour but not everyone is tough enough to cope.
The reality is that if you are not battling with emotional and mental issues, you can be kinder and a tad bit more sensitive. The reality is that people experiencing mental and emotional issues should find coping mechanisms. Proper diagnosis, treatments such as therapy, medication, and alternative medication and sharing can all assist. I am nowhere close to being a professional in this field but I believe that we should address mental health in the industry and in general.
Below is a tweet that I shared recently and it was an icebreaker for conversations that were initiated by both familiar and unfamiliar people in my industry. I was so happy to have those conversations.
Remember your health is your wealth. I am not just talking about your physical but also your mental well-being.
Much love to those who are fighting, coping and working towards happiness…Keep your heads up. Please check on your friends and remember to never feel uncomfortable when you need to address mental health in the entertainment industry.